Gutless journalism

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How The New York Times contributes to government abuse

In articles written for the public by respectable journalists, in respectable papers, we find the terms, ‘extraordinary rendition’, ‘detained’, ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. When in fact, we should be reading, ‘kidnapped’, ‘imprisoned without charge’, and ‘torture’.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, and every other major and minor American newspaper I’ve read in the past few years, parrots the government’s Orwellian euphemisms. Pentagon and Homeland Security and War on Terror euphemisms. Why do they do it? Is it lack of journalistic guts? Or is it simply lack of journalistic professionalism?

Last year, The Times ran an article on the recent reissue of Strunk’s The Elements of Style. Reader comments were welcome. To my surprise, nearly all the comments, many from self-professed writers, were negative. Are we moving away from the condemnation of euphemism? From the praise of clarity, and of truth?

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