A star-shaped figure (*) used chiefly to indicate an omission, a reference to a footnote, or an unattested word, sound, or affix.
Sometimes, you read a story and you just know it's an iceberg. No, not something likely to sink a ship - something that is deceptively small and easily comprehended above the surface, but is really a hulking, unknown form below the surface.
This story on the source of the Schiavo memo is such a story.
An aide stepped forward, claimed the pen (keyboard), and resigned for having written the document widely criticized as hard evidence of Republican calculation and cunning.
The GOP was shocked over the document, of course - not us, not us, we'd never . . . . .
But such memos are written all the time. Staffers at the behest of their members or simply on their own initiative - initiative they expect rewarded - think politically. That's their job. The more people you have watching the big picture - the policy, the politics, the PR - the more effective you'll be.
The staffer takes the fall. Perhaps he deserved it. Perhaps he didn't.
The story is littered with asterisks, if you know how to see them.