Jul
01
2010

Torture Is When Other Countries Do It

A study (4/10) by Harvard students discovered that waterboarding was commonly called torture by major newspapers–right until the United States was found to be practicing it. The study looked at coverage in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal. As Salon's Glenn Greenwald put it, "We don't need a state-run media because our media outlets volunteer for the task:Once theU.S. government decrees that a technique is no longer torture, U.S. media outlets dutifully cease using the term." The Harvard researchhas been widely discussed, which is certainly a good thing. Michael Calderone at Yahoo! has […]

May
30
2009

The Results of 'Smothering Torture in Euphemism'

In a Smirking Chimp piece (5/29/09) averring that "Everyone Should See Torturing Democracy"–the delayed documentary that "recounts how the Bush White House and the Pentagon decided to make coercive detention and abusive interrogation the official U.S. policy" and "also credits the brave few who stood up to those in power"–PBS' Bill Moyers spells out the larger consequences of the fact that "in all the recent debate over torture, many of our Beltway pundits and politicians have twisted themselves into verbal contortions to avoid using the word at all": Smothering the reality of torture in euphemism of course has a political […]

May
15
2009

Examining the Paper of Record's Torture Record

Giving us a glimpse at "a large part of what was left on the editor's floor" from his On the Media NPR interview, Harpers.org's Scott Horton (5/12/09) writes of "the New York Times and its history of dealing with the word 'torture'": I noted that in the pre-Bush era, the Times had absolutely no compunction about calling certain practices "torture," but when the Bush administration began to use them, the word was suddenly off-limits, or only used in the most circumspect way ("a practice which critics of the administration call 'torture,'" for instance). A good example can be found in […]