Media Bias

Spc. Phil Van Treuren thinks he has found a glaring omission from the NY Times after he compares copy with the AP.

I am generally loathe to assign motives to things like this, since there are so many things we do not know about behind the scenes. I don’t know the editing process, how many people this had to go through at the Times, whether or not they had to remove words to get it to fit right for the deadtree edition, etc. In other words, there may be a whole lot of reasons why it was cut.

On the other hand, it seems like these are the types of ‘facts’ that are always cut from these stories.

Your thoughts?

*** Update ***

Here is the Wapo’s version:

A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.

In all, 53 people were killed in bombings and gunfire across the country, including two American soldiers who died in a roadside bombing near Baghdad. The U.S. military also reported the deaths of four American troops on Wednesday.






84 replies
  1. 1
    Nikki says:

    Tempest in a teapot. Does it really matter why they were there? A commentor mentioned that the soldiers were also visiting some patients at the hospital. Why did the AP leave that out?

    And when compared with the candy-giveaway event from earlier this year that ended with the deaths of more than 20 children, those events take on a different hue.

  2. 2
    SomeCallMeTim says:

    Wierd. I assume that the Times’ stringer somehow didn’t pickup the information. It’s not as if the story coddles the terrorists: it calls the attack particularly brutal (or something) two paragraphs down. I admit it is very strange.

    OTOH, the AP article references a “homocide bomber.” If there is an easier tell of a joke author writing a politically pushed piece, I’m not sure what it is. Absent the context of this post, I wouldn’t have read the article past that point.

  3. 3
    neil says:

    I think the Fox article is sloppier (Treuren identifies it as AP, but ‘homicide bomber’ is Fox’s stylebook, and ‘candy and food’ probably is as well), and the Times was right to print it the way they did. Were the troops deployed to that location to hand out candy and food, or were soldiers doing it to pass the time while patrolling or providing security?

    I agree with Treuren that the ‘candy and food’ story paints a more sympathetic picture, but is it a more accurate one? And is it the media’s job to make sure we are properly sympathetic to ambushed soldiers? I prefer accuracy, myself.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Tim F. says:

    It is interesting to see that CK self-identifies as Republican fansite while practically every recent veteran recruited to run for office is a Democrat.

  6. 6
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Or, the Times stringer simply didn’t have the information on deadline that the AP stringer had.
    Gold Star’s rule of thumb: the more someone whines about media bias the less necessary it is to listen to that person’s arguments.

  7. 7

    Um, John, you do know that handing out candy to kids in Iraq is not a good thing, right? We guys are targets over there and armed accordingly. The kids are not. Something like handing out candy is exactly the kind of facile, feelgood gesture that we should stay away from if it puts kids in danger.

    This is an only slightly less tinfoil-hattish redux of the “they put an X on Cheney!” controversy.

  8. 8
    Steve says:

    It’s a total judgment call. It’s a positive depiction of our troops, but it’s also purely gratuitous. I would have no problem with someone who included it in their story, and I would have no problem with someone who didn’t.

    The term “homicide bomber,” on the other hand, is absurd. Anyone who uses it is not a serious journalist.

  9. 9
    OCSteve says:

    When it happens once, twice, on occasion – I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

    But when there is a consistent pattern of what kind of information gets left out I do not.

    It is very tough to ‘prove’ the bias is intentional. I think it is more subconscious. But when you poll the media itself the results are pretty telling.

    Summarized here:

    “Efforts to establish a stable democracy:”
    Will succeed:
    Public 56%
    Media: 33%

    Will fail:
    Public: 37%
    News media: 63%

    “Decision to take military action” Public:
    Public: “right decision” 48%, “wrong decision” 45%
    News media: “right decision” 28%, “wrong decision” 71%

    “Iraq’s impact on war on terrorism” Public:
    Public: “helped” 44%, “hurt” 44%
    News media: “helped” 22%, “hurt” 68%

    “Is torture of terrorist suspects justified?” Combining “often” and “sometimes,” vs. “rarely” and “never”
    Public: 46% yes, 49% no
    News media: 21% yes, 78% no

    “Restrictions on student visas” Public:
    Public: “worth it to prevent terrorism” 71%, “loses too many good students” 20%
    News media: “worth it to prevent terrorism” 39%, “loses too many good students” 56%

    “Reducing illegal immigration” News Media:
    News Media: 17% “top priority,” 69% “some priority” (86%)
    General Public 51% “top priority,” 39% “some priority” (90%)

    Bush job approval:
    August 2001:
    Public: 51%
    News media: 40%

    October 2005:
    Public: 40%
    News media: 21%

  10. 10
    OCSteve says:

    Hmm can’t get links to work:
    Summary:
    http://www.mediaresearch.org/c.....1122.asp#1

    Full results:
    href=”http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=1016″

  11. 11

    Making a mountain out of a molehile. So the NY Times version is less detailed. So what? This is somehow evidence of media bias?

    Give me a break.

  12. 12
    p.lukasiak says:

    The question is: What is most significant? And to me, what is most significant is who was being targetted.

    And all the story make it clear that US forces were the target. Wingnuts have no problem considering children “collateral damage” if they happen to be killed in the process of attacking insurgents — indeed, they despise outlets like al-Jazeera because they will point out that children are among the victims of US attacks.

    So please take your pick, John. If al-jazeera deserves to be bombed because it makes note of civilian casualties when the US attacks, does this mean that he AP should be bombed when insurgents attack troops and civilian casualties occur?

  13. 13
    John Cole says:

    It is interesting to see that CK self-identifies as Republican fansite while practically every recent veteran recruited to run for office is a Democrat.

    Cite, please. I think you are confusing the effort by DKos and others to push veterans running as democrats with actual numbers. Sure, the Democrats may be more visible, but I have seen nothing in the way of numbers stating what you have here.

    And from another perspective, as the GOP has the majority in the House and Senate, it makes sense that the new candidates would increasingly be Democrats.

  14. 14
    Tim F. says:

    OCSteve,

    It sounds to me like the media is better-informed. Does that surprise you?

  15. 15
    Tim F. says:

    Cite, please. I think you are confusing the effort by DKos and others to push veterans running as democrats with actual numbers. Sure, the Democrats may be more visible, but I have seen nothing in the way of numbers stating what you have here.

    Put it this way, if the Republicans have recruited any I haven’t heard of it. Doubtlessly they have recruited somebody so I’ll be glad to stand corrected.

  16. 16
    OCSteve says:

    It sounds to me like the media is better-informed. Does that surprise you?

    It sounds to me like they are predominantly Democrats – and no it does not surprise me.

  17. 17

    I agree Tim F. The media doesn’t have the blind optimisim that plagues portions of the population.

    Or the blind “towing the party line” that most Republicans and Democrats have.

  18. 18

    t sounds to me like they are predominantly Democrats – and no it does not surprise me.

    Your logic isn’t correct.

    Ever think that maybe the Democrat’s positions are the correct ones therefore they agree with the media and not the other way around?

    If you want, I can show you that the vast majority of Republicans are out of touch considering that Bush, who has a national approval of 34%, has an approval of 80% amoung Republicans.

    So clearly, most Republicans are nuts. I hope you see the faulty logic in that.

  19. 19
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Or, the media may be more pessimistic than the public

  20. 20
    MattD says:

    I think the Fox article is sloppier (Treuren identifies it as AP, but ‘homicide bomber’ is Fox’s stylebook, and ‘candy and food’ probably is as well), and the Times was right to print it the way they did. Were the troops deployed to that location to hand out candy and food, or were soldiers doing it to pass the time while patrolling or providing security?

    From an update I read on the site, based on a commenter (therefore I have no idea if it’s true), the troops were deployed there doing an assessment regarding having the facility refurbished.

    Come on. You don’t think there’s a significant difference between a reference to an attack at a hospital where US troops handing out candy and a reference to an attack near “a US convoy”? One sounds like a military strike, and the other sounds like terrorism. And what exactly is wrong with the term “homicidce bomber,” a term that I first noted in the context reporting about Palestinian sucide attacks against Israeli civilians (i.e., terrorism)? If you’re suggesting that it’s innapropriate to apply the term to insurgent attacks in Iraq, while I disagree with you, I understand the point. If you’re suggesting the term never be used at all, then you’re just wrong. What exactly is innacurrate about the term, since the goal of the attacker is to commit murder? Is this some sort of “root causes” angle on terrorism that I’m supposed to understand?

  21. 21
    ppGaz says:

    I don’t agree with the premise. The ommitted words don’t materially change the story for me.

    A bomb goes off and kills a bunch of people, but I will get a warm fuzzy if I know that our troops were there to hand out candy? Let me be blunt: Fuck that.

    First of all, am I being asked to support a war that costs 100 million dollars a day, because we’re handing out candy? If so, that is the most expensive fucking candy on the planet. Get me a new vendor.

    Second, what the hell would I imagine troops would be doing at a hospital? Parking cars? Planning WP attacks? How fucking stupid does Phil think we are out here?

    Third, if this is a candy war, and we are losing because we aren’t hearing enough abou the candy, whose fault is that? NYT, or the candy people? Do you get the dripping sacracsm here? As you all know, if there is one thing I hate, it’s having somebod piss on my leg and telling me it’s raining.

    Sorry, Phil is manipulating, and not doing it very well, either.

  22. 22
    neil says:

    Come on. You don’t think there’s a significant difference between a reference to an attack at a hospital where US troops handing out candy and a reference to an attack near “a US convoy”? One sounds like a military strike, and the other sounds like terrorism.

    I said that there is a significant difference in the tone, although I don’t agree that a suicide bomb is ‘like a military strike.’ I also don’t agree that it is the media’s job to make the story sound more or less like anything, besides accurate. And I don’t think it’s more accurate to describe their presence as being for the purpose of handing out candy. It’s certainly more accurate that they were attacked for being a US convoy than that they were attacked for handing out candy.

  23. 23
    SomeCallMeTim says:

    And what exactly is wrong with the term “homicidce bomber,” a term that I first noted in the context reporting about Palestinian sucide attacks against Israeli civilians (i.e., terrorism)?

    Roughly the same thing as is wrong with the phrase “antisemitic Nazi.” The adjective doesn’t add any interesting new information to the noun, so it’s there for some other purpose.

  24. 24
    OCSteve says:

    Disenfranchised:

    Your logic isn’t correct.
    Ever think that maybe the Democrat’s positions are the correct ones therefore they agree with the media and not the other way around?

    I didn’t think I needed to point out that they (media) self-identify mainly as liberals or Democrats. There have been plenty of polls.

    • Five times more national journalists identify themselves as “liberal” (34 percent) than “conservative” (just 7 percent). In contrast, a survey of the public taken in May 2004 found 20 percent saying they were liberal, and 33 percent saying they were conservative.
    • The percentage of national reporters saying they are liberal has increased, from 22 percent in 1995 to 34 percent in 2004. The percentage of self-identified conservatives remains low, rising from a meager 4 percent in 1995 to a still-paltry 7 percent in 2004.

    http://www.mrc.org/biasbasics/.....0in%202004

  25. 25

    Why do the terrorists hate candy?

  26. 26
    Steve says:

    I cannot understand the utter stupidity that leads some people to argue that “homicide bomber” is an accurate term. Look, when an IED blows up and kills people, is it a “homicide bombing”? Were Hiroshima and Nagasaki “homicide bombings”? No, it seems that only a bomber who blows himself up earns the term “homicide bomber.” But oh no, we can’t call him a “suicide bomber,” even though his death is the only thing that distinguishes him from a regular old “bomber.”

    It’s an utterly incorrect use of the English language, included solely to instruct the listener that suicide bombers are bad people, as if he didn’t know already. As such, it’s terrible journalism.

  27. 27

    OCSteve, following in the footsteps of ppGaz let me be blunt.

    If you think the media has a liberal bias you’re a fucking moron.

    The media’s bias isn’t red or blue. The color the media is concerned with is green, and I’m not talking about the political party.

  28. 28
    ppGaz says:

    Only a first-class manipulator would think that the ommitted words here actually make a difference. Phil, are you listening?

    If people who support this war think that we should do so in order to mince words a particular way, or win media attention points on a blog contest, then I think they should all STFU today and find something else to do.

    Word mincing is what we think of when we hear the phrase “sexual relations with that woman.” Or “no controlling legal authority.” Or “we never said there was a connection between Iraq and 911.” Or “we didn’t have perfet intelligence.”

    Fuck all word mincers and the word-mincing horses they minced in on.

  29. 29
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    It’s certainly more accurate that they were attacked for being a US convoy than that they were attacked for handing out candy.

    Four out of five Iraqi dentists disapprove – violently disapprove.

  30. 30
    neil says:

    C’mon, ppGaz, don’t mince words, tell us what you _really_ think.

  31. 31

    And jesus christ OCSteve, don’t try to pass Bozell’s bullshit media research group as an objective source.

    Basically you are saying, according to the organization of a right wing hack, a majority of the media considers themselves liberal!

    Once again, give me a break.

  32. 32
    ppGaz says:

    don’t mince words, tell us what you really think.

    Hell, I’m just gettin’ warmed up.

    It’s not bad enough we have to be jerked around by mealy-mouthed politicians on both sides of every issue. Now we have to be jerked around by mealy mouthed pundits, talking heads, bloggers, and “journalists” too.

    The world gets better on the day when people start saying what they mean and meaning what they say. The fact that these @&%#&%@ people don’t do that is the reason why the public is no longer supporting the war and the bulshitting government that gave it to them. The people don’t want better-minced words — they want straight talk.

  33. 33
    Tim F. says:

    To put a finer point on my earlier comment, Camp Katrina is a nakedly partisan site. Of course they’re outraged by every perceived slip that offends rightiwng sensibilities, that’s their job. It’s called working the refs.

    Are they veterans first, or Republicans first? I’ve read through their political postings and it’s pretty clear to me that they’d eat nails before they would criticize Bush. Two examples of what I mean.

  34. 34
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Nope, no bias here at all:

    The mission of the Media Research Center is to bring balance and responsibility to the news media. Leaders of America’s conservative movement have long believed that within the national news media a strident liberal bias existed that influenced the public’s understanding of critical issues.

    When researchers know what they’re looking for in advance of any study, should anyone be surprised when the conclusions advance their beliefs?

  35. 35
    ppGaz says:

    It’s called working the refs.

    Well stated. But remember, it’s the crowd that runs this country in the long run. Not the refs, and not the coaches. The crowd. And the crowd is not as stupid as a lot of the refs and coaches would prefer them to be.

  36. 36
    Dave Ruddell says:

    The media’s bias isn’t red or blue. The color the media is concerned with is green, and I’m not talking about the political party.

    Very well said. Arguing the media is biased against you is the second last refuge of scoundrels. Of course that applies equally to those who claim that the corporate controlled media helped get the US into the war in the first place.

  37. 37
    OCSteve says:

    Basically you are saying, according to the organization of a right wing hack, a majority of the media considers themselves liberal!

    Fine. That was a summary – go to the source, The Pew Research Center (VRWC Division):

    http://people-press.org/report.....portID=214

    I can sit here all day and pull up poll after poll where the media self-identify as more liberal than conservative. I am not saying they are more liberal – they are.

    And if you think that does not color their reporting in some way then you are being intentionally blind.

    I never said it was intentional bias (with the exception of some notable pre-election incidents). I just think there is some ingrained and (mostly) subconscious bias.

  38. 38
    ppGaz says:

    Arguing the media is biased against you is the second last refuge

    Actually, in the case of ordinary people (not the manipulating class), it’s a rational response to a basic truth: The media are whores and journalism is no longer practiced there. That’s a real problem.

  39. 39
    RSA says:

    In a FoxNews world: “A homicide bombing attempt was successfully thwarted today, when military soldiers visually observed metallic copper wires trailing from the suspect’s jacket, a garment worn on the upper half of the human body. Details to follow.”

  40. 40

    Fine. That was a summary – go to the source, The Pew Research Center (VRWC Division):

    Ok and after looking up the source I think the poll sucks. They gave three choices: Liberal, Moderate, Conservative.

    Now, speaking as a libertarian, given the climate we are in I would probably mark myself down as liberal. But is that an accurate characterization of me? No.

    The poll is poorly done. Doing an either or, liberal or conservative poll, isn’t going to give an accurate reflection of the news media.

    Then again, I forgot how much you Bush-supporters love the whole Us vs Them schtick. No wonder you consider the media liberal. If they don’t agree with your neo-con authoritarian views they are “libural”.

  41. 41
    BumperStickerist says:

    First of all, am I being asked to support a war that costs 100 million dollars a day, because we’re handing out candy? .

    If it helps, you were okay with spending around $95 million per day to station roughly the same number of troops in Kuwait so that Saddam would take the UN Resolution seriously enough so that the 100 or so United Nations inspectors could drive around Iraq.

    So, using a reality-based model, the US has spent $300 million to remove Saddam and verify the status of Iraq’s WMD capability. Not to mention that whole ‘democracy’ thing.

    The issue of casualties, though, has to be considered.

    While the number of casualities during the two-to-three year (or much longer) sit-around would be less than today, there’s no reason to think that AQ or ‘insurgents’ would not attack US soldiers in Kuwait using IEDs, hit and run mortar attacks, or suicide bombers.

    The only way those “This war is costing us ….” arguments work is if you believe that the alternative cost was zero. That’s not very reality-based, imo.

    .

  42. 42
    neil says:

    I can sit here all day and pull up poll after poll where the media self-identify as more liberal than conservative.

    Great. Although ‘the media’ is not monolithic — I assume you are talking about reporters, rather than editors, producers, and executives.

    Now can you try making the case that these liberal reporters affect the way the news is reported? Please explain, also, why their conservative bosses do not affect the reporting.

  43. 43
    ppGaz says:

    So, using a reality-based model, the US has spent $300 million to remove Saddam and verify the status of Iraq’s WMD capability

    If that’s your idea of a “reality-based model” then I have even less regard for your comments than I did before, which is …. remarkable.

  44. 44
    ppGaz says:

    Not to mention that whole ‘democracy’ thing

    .

    Go ahead, mention it. The liklihood of a stable, liberal democracy in Iraq 36 months — or even 18 months — after we pull down the bulk of our presence there, is something less than zero. There is no basis in history or anywhere else for believing in that fairy tale. None. That’s the brain fart of an insane bunch of neocons. Neocons … as in New Cons. They’re cons, all right.

    It’s laughable that blogdwellers would think — or say they think — such a thing might happen. But it’s disgusting that a government would send people off to die for such a lunatic fucking idea. Our blood and treasure would be better spent building golf resorts at the South Pole.

  45. 45
    MattD says:

    I used the term “military strike” because the soldiers in the Times story were identified merely as a “convoy” without any context. Yes, noting that the soliders were in fact there to hand out candy and (if true) to help refubish the hospital, I do think it warrants mentioning, if the same newspaper’s editorial board is planning on running editorials chastising the war effort for “failure to win the hearts and minds of the people.”

    Re: media bias, is the point, then that only Fox News is biased, and the other conventional media outlets, CBS, NY Times, et. al., are unbiased? I’m perfectly willing to admit that Newscorp is biased; their media arms report news from a certain point of view, but so does everyone else. What goads us is that most of you only see bias in Fox, but if the news is reported from a point of you that you agree with, then that’s unbiased. Right.

    Were Hiroshima and Nagasaki “homicide bombings”? No, it seems that only a bomber who blows himself up earns the term “homicide bomber.” But oh no, we can’t call him a “suicide bomber,” even though his death is the only thing that distinguishes him from a regular old “bomber.”

    It’s an utterly incorrect use of the English language, included solely to instruct the listener that suicide bombers are bad people, as if he didn’t know already. As such, it’s terrible journalism.

    First off, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not homicides, so no, the Enlola Gay was not piloted by homicide bombers. Secondly, as to suicide/homicide bombers, I just don’t agree that the notion that the actor is a murderer is implicit it the term “suicide bomber.” The description de-emphisizes the heinousness of the act, focusing instead upon the phsychology of the actor. The suicide isn’t the story, the mass murder inflicted is the story. We obviously don’t agree on this, which is fine, because I often don’t agree with the way the NY Times characterizes certain news stories. Personally get annoyed when the 9/11 terror attacks are referred to as “the Events of September 11” as if they just happened, like an earthquake or flood and were not the calculated murder of thousands by terrorists (homicide bombers, if you will).

  46. 46
    p.lukasiak says:

    of course reporters are more “liberal” than “conservative”. Their job is to examine the facts, and report on them, and the facts favor liberal ideas and opinions..

  47. 47
    RSA says:

    Personally get annoyed when the 9/11 terror attacks are referred to as “the Events of September 11”

    I agree with the sentiment, though I also dislike the clunky phrase “terror attacks”.

  48. 48
    Far North says:

    Agreed. The facts have a liberal bias.

  49. 49
    Steve S says:

    So shouldn’t we be displaying a little bit of outrage that the soldiers were attracting children to themselves by offering candy?

    I’m pretty certain that this is against the rules, considering it places the children at much greater risk.

  50. 50
    OCSteve says:

    Disenfranchised:

    Ok and after looking up the source I think the poll sucks. They gave three choices: Liberal, Moderate, Conservative.

    The poll is poorly done. Doing an either or, liberal or conservative poll, isn’t going to give an accurate reflection of the news media.

    Thank you for the civil points. I give a lot more consideration to an argument like that than “fucking moron”. I see your point and agree with it to an extent. I would have to pick moderate out of the list and it would not really describe me either.

    Then again, I forgot how much you Bush-supporters love the whole Us vs Them schtick. No wonder you consider the media liberal. If they don’t agree with your neo-con authoritarian views they are “libural”.

    Sigh.

  51. 51
    Jimmie says:

    As a note, if you read farther into the WaPo article, you’ll see that around the same time a terrorist killed several people in Hilla with a car bomb very near a soda stand that was a popular relaxation place for familes before the Muslim weekend. There were no army nor military personnel about.

    This leads me to believe that the target of the bomb at the hospital wasn’t the soldiers, but the women and children around the soldiers. How better to make sure that there’s no bomd whatsoever between the people of Iraq and our soldiers than to drive a wedge between them? Seems to me that’s been a goal of the terrorists all along as evidenced by what they’ve said and several of their bombings in the recent past. I’d think that the pattern of targeting civilians would be something the NYT would notice.

  52. 52
    smijer says:

    On “homicide bomber”… well, let me interrupt myself to quote this:

    First off, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not homicides, so no, the Enlola Gay was not piloted by homicide bombers.

    and say, “whuuh???” This must be the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Are you seriously denying that anyone died from the bombs dropped on H & N?

    And then, to say… yeah – suicide bombing is a descriptive term. It’s only been in fairly recent history that people have taken to doing that (apart from the Kamikazes) in large numbers… blowing themselves up along with their targets… So it’s noteworthy enough to carry a descriptive qualifier. As others have pointed out, “homicide bombing” is just redundant… But more than that, it’s a propaganda term that originated from the White House. No one in the media used the term before (I forget whether it was Bush or one of his staff) used it in the Rose Garden a few years back.

    Something similar could be said about the “Global War on Terror”… Some news organizations even count actions having to do with Iraq in their totals when they talk about the fabled GWOT.

  53. 53
    Marx Marvelous says:

    First off, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not homicides, so no, the Enola Gay was not piloted by homicide bombers.

    One of the prerequisites to dicussing the term “homicide bomber” is knowing what the word “homocide” means. Hope this helps.

  54. 54
    kl says:

    So shouldn’t we be displaying a little bit of outrage that the soldiers were attracting children to themselves by offering candy?

    I’m pretty certain that this is against the rules, considering it places the children at much greater risk.

    Yes, this practice has been condemned by the American Dental Society.

  55. 55
    kl says:

    of course reporters are more “liberal” than “conservative”. Their job is to examine the facts, and report on them, and the facts favor liberal ideas and opinions..

    Just ask Mary Mapes!

  56. 56
    aop says:

    First off, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not homicides, so no, the Enlola Gay was not piloted by homicide bombers.

    hom·i·cide n.

    1. The killing of one person by another.
    2. A person who kills another person.

    They were homicides. Just homicides you aren’t outraged by. Try taking a straw poll in Japan and see what the locals think.

    Secondly, as to suicide/homicide bombers, I just don’t agree that the notion that the actor is a murderer is implicit it the term “suicide bomber.”

    Unless you’ve never watched TV or read a newspaper, you are perfectly aware of what the term “suicide bomber” means. It means, “someone who sets off a bomb and blows themselves up in the process,” thus differentiating themselves from people who just set bombs off. Often suicide bombers fail to kill anyone, although whether they do or not is usually mentioned in the accompanying article where the term is employed.

    The term “homicide bomber” is fucking ridiculous. It’s a silly, disingenuous neologism invented by and for people like Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt and their ilk, who think condemning “evil” with the proper perjorative force is the same as being able to identify it or prosecute it effectively. Why not call them “evildeathkill bombers” while you’re at it?

  57. 57
    Otto Man says:

    The media is more liberal than the average person, and that means there’s a liberal bias?

    When all the people who make a living reading, writing and thinking about a problem all day long come away with a different conclusion than the people who sorta heard something about it over breakfast from the blow-dried and neutered mimbo anchor on “Fox and Friends,” you can either believe it’s because (a) that first group actually knows more about the matter and has what people in the reality-based community call “an informed opinion” or (b) it’s proof of a vast left-wing conspiracy, working out there to subvert the infallible will of the people.

    See also “intelligent design vs. evolution.”

  58. 58
    Darrell says:

    That was one hell of a glaring ommission all right on the part of the NY Times. Because the NYT’s characterization of the attack made it seem like a semi-legit military confrontation taking on a US military convoy on the move, rather than explain that the convoy was not there for military reasons, but already their on the ground handing out candy to children. If AP and the WashPost are correct, that ommision on the part of NYTimes is pure leftist bias, intentionally ommiting pertinent information which would make the terrorists look worse while pointing out virtuousness of our troops.

  59. 59
    ppGaz says:

    make the terrorists look worse while

    Welcome to Darrellworld. In Darrellworld, a bomb goes off and turns a few dozen people into hamburger, and the most important thing is, whether the terrorists “look worse” because our people were “handing out candy.”

    See, IT’S THE CANDY that’s important in this story, Darrell, you unrepentant stupid goddamned idiot.

    Jesus H. Christ.

  60. 60
    Darrell says:

    Tim F wrote:

    Are they veterans first, or Republicans first? I’ve read through their political postings and it’s pretty clear to me that they’d eat nails before they would criticize Bush. Two examples of what I mean.

    Tim’s first example is a post dedicated to Spc. Phil Van Treuren’s joking suggestion that Pres Bush wear a bomber jacket during every speech to drive the left bonkers. Great example there demonstrating how he’d “eat nails” before criticizing Bush.. let me tell you, that is proof-positive of extreme bias if I’ve ever seen one

    Tim’s second example of ‘proof’ that so clearly demonstrates their willingness to bow down to the alter of Bush, is a post in which Van Treuren actually chastises a fellow conservative for making over-the-top comments about needing to “tear out the fingernails” of terrorists to get them to talk. Get that? He criticizes such talk. He discourages it. Clearly he is brainwashed by team Bush’s mind control rays and cannot help but parrot the Bush line

  61. 61
    aop says:

    Back on topic, the fact that the troops were handing out candy to children is, in my view, a pertinent fact. If nothing else, it’s simply more descriptive and provides more information and context than a blanket description of an “attack on a convoy,” information and context being exactly what journalists are supposed to provide the public. If the terrorists did, in fact, blow up a bunch of kids being given candy, I can’t see why anyone would want the generic NY Times version.

  62. 62
    Jason says:

    if you read farther into the WaPo article, you’ll see that around the same time a terrorist killed several people in Hilla with a car bomb very near a soda stand

    HE HATES THESE CANS!!!! STAY AWAY FROM THE CANS!!!!!

  63. 63
    Darrell says:

    See, IT’S THE CANDY that’s important in this story, Darrell, you unrepentant stupid goddamned idiot.

    ppgaz, attacking a hospital while soldiers are handing out candy, that is, targeting sick children in a hospital, is far worse than attacking a US military convoy. Whether your inability to see that distinction qualifies you as a ‘stupid goddamned idiot’ or not, I’ll let others their own conclusions

  64. 64
    aop says:

    HE HATES THESE CANS! STAY AWAY FROM THE CANS!!

    Jerk…

  65. 65
    MattD says:

    You are right about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I misspoke(wrote). I meant to say that they were not murders, but you are right that they were “homicides.” I stand corrected.

    Unless you’ve never watched TV or read a newspaper, you are perfectly aware of what the term “suicide bomber” means. It means, “someone who sets off a bomb and blows themselves up in the process,” thus differentiating themselves from people who just set bombs off. Often suicide bombers fail to kill anyone, although whether they do or not is usually mentioned in the accompanying article where the term is employed.

    Okay, so why is it innacurate or disingeneous to say that a “homicide bomber” is one who sets off a bomb and blows other people up on the process,” thus diffentiating themselves from those who just set bombs off without killing?

    The term “homicide bomber” is fucking ridiculous. It’s a silly, disingenuous neologism invented by and for people like Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt and their ilk, who think condemning “evil” with the proper perjorative force is the same as being able to identify it or prosecute it effectively. Why not call them “evildeathkill bombers” while you’re at it?

    I still don’t agree with this notion. What is wrong with using words that describe terrorism with perjorative force? What is wrong with conemning evil (notice the lack of scare quotes here)? There’s nothing disingeneous about the use of the word “homicide” to describe terrorist boming that kills civilians, and doing so is not meant to be a substitute for the effective prosecution of terrorism. In my opinion, using these pejorative terms, instead of generic terms like “Events of September 11” “bomber” and “militant” helps remind people what it is we are fighting. That does help the effective prosecution of terrorism.

  66. 66
    ppGaz says:

    ppgaz, attacking a hospital while soldiers are handing out candy, that is, targeting sick children in a hospital, is far worse than attacking a US military convoy.

    No it isn’t. Murder is murder.

  67. 67
    aop says:

    Okay, so why is it innacurate or disingeneous to say that a “homicide bomber” is one who sets off a bomb and blows other people up on the process,” thus diffentiating themselves from those who just set bombs off without killing?

    It’s not inaccurate, just stupid and unnecessary. Unless you’re going to write a story that just says “Suicide Bomber – The End” the “suicide bomber” part is going to be followed by “killed x number of people.” I suppose you could also write a story that went, “A bomber killed 6 people in Iraq today, including himself.” But try sticking the word “homicide” in there and see how poorly it reads.

    So this “homicide bomber” thing is just another bit of silliness designed to give weight to the user’s credentials as Someone Serious about Terrorism, or whatever. It’s bogus. Just like your “scare quotes” assertion. Give me a fucking break.

  68. 68
    Kimmitt says:

    No it isn’t. Murder is murder.

    Heeuw. I mean, we have Laws of War for a reason, you know?

  69. 69
    ppGaz says:

    Not to Darrell’s non-point. If the bomber is targeting civilians, it’s murder. What the troops are doing there doesn’t matter.

    Unless you want to assert that anyone caught near a soldier is fair game.

  70. 70
    RSA says:

    In my opinion, using these pejorative terms, instead of generic terms like “Events of September 11” “bomber” and “militant” helps remind people what it is we are fighting.

    Two points:

    First, it’s not as if people need reminding about what happened on 9/11, or that “bomber” in a terrorism context means that people are being killed. The meaning is still intact.

    Second, overuse of pejorative terms causes them to lose their emotional impact. I am irritated by terms such as “cyber-terrorism”, for example. Say someone spreads a virus through a computer network–where’s the terror? Ditto “food Nazi”, “militant feminists”, “War on Terror/Poverty/Drugs”, and so forth. There’s a place for these terms (e.g., in comedy), but really it’s the kind of overuse that you actually want to avoid, so that when someone says “terror” or “homicide” or “war” they still have strong emotional connotations instead of just being part of a stock phrase.

  71. 71
    aop says:

    Second, overuse of pejorative terms causes them to lose their emotional impact.

    Indeed. It’s also worth noting that a lot of this phraseology only exists in order to play on people’s emotions. I.e., all the permutations of “evil”–“axis of evil,” “evildoers,” etc. What is the practical benefit of identifying someone/something as “evil?” Nothing. Was Jeffrey Dahmer “evil?” As far as arresting and trying him under US law, it made no difference.

    In the context of foreign policy, these terms are the lexicon of demagoguery, employed to play on people’s emotions and religious feelings. It’s not enough to identify Al Qaeda as the group responsible for 9/11–they have to be “evil” on some mystical level, which helps rhetorically leverage ousting Saddam (another evidoer), whether or not he actually had anything to do with 9/11.
    But the NSA, DOD, CIA and FBI are not run by Batman or Thor. I don’t want the Green Lantern heading up the joint chiefs. It is not the province of our national security agencies and armed forces to do battle with evil. It is their job to keep America safe, period.

  72. 72
    RSA says:

    I don’t want the Green Lantern heading up the joint chiefs.

    Well, not Guy Gardner, at least.

  73. 73
    ppGaz says:

    In the context of foreign policy, these terms are the lexicon of demagoguery, employed to play on people’s emotions and religious feelings. It’s not enough to identify Al Qaeda as the group responsible for 9/11—they have to be “evil” on some mystical level, which helps rhetorically leverage ousting Saddam (another evidoer), whether or not he actually had anything to do with 9/11.

    This is exactly correct.

    And the whole idea that a mass murder event is only properly described if the candy is mentioned … is something right from the bathosphere we now live in.

    But don’t tell Darrell … to him, it’s all about the candy.

  74. 74
    a guy called larry says:

    So, what’s the timeline on this bombing, anyway? Did the guy see troops giving out candy, run home, pack up the car with HE, come back to homocide/suicide? Did he have faulty intel that the troops were waterboarding the women & kids? Was he on his way to blow up a convoy, and decided to blow up at the hospital instead? How, exactly, does the candy make this incident more heinous?

    And, while I’m asking questions, how’s that roadside attraction doing these days, Marx?

  75. 75
    MattD says:

    I was never advocating the “overuse” of pejorative terms. (I would argue that everyone’s overusage of the word “fuck” in their postings here has the same effect on that word’s emotional impact.) What I have a problem with is your opposition to using such terms at all. You may see it as a conservative version of “wearing the ribbon”–a meaningless and self-serving gesture, and when Bill O’Riley does it, it may be. However, to me, the words “terror” “homicide” and yes, “evil” serve the purpose of reminding us what we’re fighting against, and stemming the creep of moral relativism into the arena. You see no purpose in refering to the members of Hamas, who recruit children to blow themselves up in an effort to inflict mass murder on other children, as “evil.” I think it’s important not to forget to call out evil when you see it. If people decide to refrain from referring to Hitler’s genocide against Jews in Germany as the “Holocaust” they will make it easier for people to disseminate the lie that it never happened. Your snarky and condescending responses to me notwithstanding, I don’t believe it impossible to see the enemy as “evil” and still be able to understand it and formulate a strategy to defeat it.

  76. 76
    aop says:

    (I would argue that everyone’s overusage of the word “fuck” in their postings here has the same effect on that word’s emotional impact.)

    True

    However, to me, the words “terror” “homicide” and yes, “evil” serve the purpose of reminding us what we’re fighting against, and stemming the creep of moral relativism into the arena.

    “Terror” and “homicide,” I have no problem with, as they describe real things. “Evil,” I think, is mainly useful for speechwriting, and amping up a public emotional response. Lets say the Nazis weren’t actually evil–that no such thing exists–would we have been somehow less obliged to fight them and end the concentration camps?

    Also, whence this creeping moral relativism that you and other conservatives seem worried about? Like, if the American public isn’t constantly reminded of Al Qaeda’s evilness, we’ll eventually shrug our shoulders and say “well, they aren’t so bad…” Believe me, no one’s forgetting 9/11 and no one’s saying don’t go after terrorists, save some fringe loonies on either side of the ditch. I do think it’s funny though, how conservative awareness of “moral compass” and “moral relativism” coincided so neatly with the first of several Iraq War rationales biting the dust. “No WMD’s, huh? Well, we’ve still got our moral compass…”

    I don’t believe it impossible to see the enemy as “evil” and still be able to understand it and formulate a strategy to defeat it.

    No, it’s not impossible, but I personally believe that the war on terrorists will be prosecuted more effectively when wrested free of rank demagoguery and emotionalism and treated like what it is: essentially an ongoing global police action.

  77. 77
    RSA says:

    However, to me, the words “terror” “homicide” and yes, “evil” serve the purpose of reminding us what we’re fighting against, and stemming the creep of moral relativism into the arena.

    I’m with aop: What kind of creeping moral relativism do you see? I’ll give one possible example. Five years ago I couldn’t have imagined a single social conservative in the U.S. disagreeing with the statement, “Torture is evil.” And now? A November, 2005, poll from Newsweek saying that 59% of Republicans think that torture of suspected terrorists can often or sometimes be justified? As others elsewhere have commented, it’s hard to think of a more clear-cut case of moral relativism.

  78. 78

    I’ve gotten to this late, and it may be that I have missed what I am about to say in the 77 comments which have preceeded me. But I want to take on OCSteve’s first post from another angle.

    If you go back to the actual Pew Survey [http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=1016] you find that News Media are only one of seven categories of “opinion leaders” surveyed: News Media, Foreign Affairs, Security, State/Local Government, Academic/Think Tank, Religious Leaders, Scientists/Engineers, and Military.

    I hardly think that the people in all of these categories have a self-evident “liberal bias”. Would you disagree with me OCSteve?

    What is characteristic about the groups chosen is that they all can be expected to be more knowledgable about broad public issues than the general public itself, and a majority of them will be more knowledgable about any given public question asked.

    For example, the first question OCSteve mentions is Efforts to Establish a Stable Democracy in Iraq will succeed/fail? As OCSteve presents it, when the general public is compared to the News Media alone the discrepancy appears horrendous,and probably due to political bias.

    But when you look at all the opinion leaders, every last one of them–except the Military–are significantly more pessimistic than the general public, with by far the highest degree of pessimism among Scientists/Engineers (84%) followed by Foreign Affairs & Academic/Think Tank (71%) Security (70%) and News Media coming in a paltry fifth (63%) in degree of pessimism.

    Moreover in only two categories, Military and State/Local Government, are a majority of the opinion leaders optomistic about Iraq’s democracy prospects. But even then, the State/Local Government category is significantly less optomistic, by 5%, than the overall public score.

    Finally, and most tellingly, only the Military category is more optomistic than the general public, and this by a full 8%!

    This would prompt me to ask, what separate planet are the Military personnel surveyed living on? And it makes me nervous that the actual success or failure of Iraq’s democracy depends so much on our Armed Forces.

    For I can see no other realistic interpretation of these figures than this: the more you actually know about public affairs, the less confident you are that Iraq will succeed. Unless of course, you happen to wear a uniform, which apparently functions as intellectual insulation.

    Now, of course, there is a school of thought which consistently equates knowledge itself with “liberal bias”, but I sincerely hope that OCSteve doesn’t belong to it.

  79. 79
    kl says:

    Second, overuse of pejorative terms causes them to lose their emotional impact.

    Exactly! Wingnut, neo-con, Fox News, etc.

  80. 80
    Alexandra says:

    All Things Beautiful TrackBacked with ‘The Thanksgiving Gift from Al-Qaeda’

    “You want to throw leaflets and not bombs at the terrorists. You want to come to a gunfight armed with a knife. Well good luck, you can kiss goodbye to that liberty you hold so dear, and treasure as the banner on your flag of democracy…”

  81. 81
    RSA says:

    Second, overuse of pejorative terms causes them to lose their emotional impact.
    Exactly! Wingnut, neo-con, Fox News, etc.

    Um, if you think that “Fox News” is a pejorative term, you’d also have to ask people not to use terms such as “Republican” and “conservative”. Fine with me.

  82. 82
    BIRDZILLA says:

    When it comes to the AP and the New York Times you cant get much more left-wing then this NYT your ultimate birdcage liner

  83. 83

    HE HATES THESE CANS! STAY AWAY FROM THE CANS!!

    HAHAHAHAH. Holy shit, I love that movie!

    Hahahhaha, thank you for the laugh.

  84. 84
    kl says:

    Um, if you think that “Fox News” is a pejorative term, you’d also have to ask people not to use terms such as “Republican” and “conservative”.

    Um, er, uh, if you think it’s never clearly used as one, welcome to the Balloon Juice comments.

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