WaPo allergy to the t-word

The Washington Post's main front-page story about the bungled terrorist attack in Times Square goes to great lengths to hide from readers the fact that this was, in fact, a bungled terrorist attack.  Both the headline and the article resort to all sort of semantic dodges to avoid reporting what the world clearly witnessed -- an attempt to inflict horrific casualties and mayhem on civilians in pursuit of someone's or some group's ideological and/or political agenda -- the classic definition of terrorism.

The headline reads:  "Times Square video shows possible suspect -- Obama Praises Police -- Officials closely monitor airports in Northeast."  A Post reader without radio, TV, other newspapers or the Internet wouldn't even know that some individual was intent on carrying out a terrorist attack in the heart of Manhattan.

But one can't blame the headline writer because the article by Scott Wilson as lead reporter contains a catalog of euphemisms -- all designed to avoid the "T" word.  Instead of a failed terror attack, Wilson downgrades it in his lead paragraph to merely an "attempted attack."

The next paragraph refers to a "bombing attempt" and to a "possible attack."  The third paragraph mentions that Times Square is a potent symbolic target -- not to jihadist terrorists mind you, but to "militant groups at war with the United States."

Wilson's terror-avoidance reporting continues in the same vein until, lo and behold, on the jump page the "T" word does appear after all.  But shucks, Wilson doesn't use it to describe what happened in Times Square, but only to quote a Pakistant Taliban commander claiming credit for "our fedayeen (who) have penetrated the terrorist America."   To Wilson, the "T" word is perfectly permissible when applied to America, but not to the would-be Times Square terrorist!

And on and on Wilson goes on writing about "the incident Saturday evening" and the "attempted bombing."

As for the Pakistan Taliban's reported boast that it was behind the "attempted bombing," Wilson finds "terrorism analysts" who question its authenticity.

Funny isn't it that Wilson manages to find terrorism analysts to rule out a Taliban terrorist attack.  But =when New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, presumably also a terrorism expert. calls it a terrorist attempt, Wilson keeps that assessment out of his article.  Yet, Kelly couldn't have been plainer.  Asked by reporters -- not evidently Wilson -- if he considered the failed bombing the work of terrorists, Kelly replied:  "A terrorist act doesn't necessarily have to be conducted by an organization.  An individual can do it on their own."

But one shouldn't be too surprised by Wilson's squeamishness about the "T" word.  When Wilson was the Washington Post's Jerusalem correspondent, he left a lengthy trail of articles softening and sanitizing terror attacks by Palestinian terrorists, while showing no hesitancy in bashing Israel at every turn.

To be fair, Wilson's semantic sins don't necessarily infuse copy written by other Post reporters.  In a front-page sidebar, reporters Jody Warrick and Spencer Hsu write about a "failed terrorist  plot."  In an inside article about the reaction of people in Times Square, reporter Keith Richburg shows no hesitation in writing about an "aborted  terrorist strike."

Wilson, however, resolutely sticks to his signature Orwellian terminology when terrorism  occurs on his beat.  And editors of the Washington Post have no compunction in letting him get away with it.
The Washington Post's main front-page story about the bungled terrorist attack in Times Square goes to great lengths to hide from readers the fact that this was, in fact, a bungled terrorist attack.  Both the headline and the article resort to all sort of semantic dodges to avoid reporting what the world clearly witnessed -- an attempt to inflict horrific casualties and mayhem on civilians in pursuit of someone's or some group's ideological and/or political agenda -- the classic definition of terrorism.

The headline reads:  "Times Square video shows possible suspect -- Obama Praises Police -- Officials closely monitor airports in Northeast."  A Post reader without radio, TV, other newspapers or the Internet wouldn't even know that some individual was intent on carrying out a terrorist attack in the heart of Manhattan.

But one can't blame the headline writer because the article by Scott Wilson as lead reporter contains a catalog of euphemisms -- all designed to avoid the "T" word.  Instead of a failed terror attack, Wilson downgrades it in his lead paragraph to merely an "attempted attack."

The next paragraph refers to a "bombing attempt" and to a "possible attack."  The third paragraph mentions that Times Square is a potent symbolic target -- not to jihadist terrorists mind you, but to "militant groups at war with the United States."

Wilson's terror-avoidance reporting continues in the same vein until, lo and behold, on the jump page the "T" word does appear after all.  But shucks, Wilson doesn't use it to describe what happened in Times Square, but only to quote a Pakistant Taliban commander claiming credit for "our fedayeen (who) have penetrated the terrorist America."   To Wilson, the "T" word is perfectly permissible when applied to America, but not to the would-be Times Square terrorist!

And on and on Wilson goes on writing about "the incident Saturday evening" and the "attempted bombing."

As for the Pakistan Taliban's reported boast that it was behind the "attempted bombing," Wilson finds "terrorism analysts" who question its authenticity.

Funny isn't it that Wilson manages to find terrorism analysts to rule out a Taliban terrorist attack.  But =when New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, presumably also a terrorism expert. calls it a terrorist attempt, Wilson keeps that assessment out of his article.  Yet, Kelly couldn't have been plainer.  Asked by reporters -- not evidently Wilson -- if he considered the failed bombing the work of terrorists, Kelly replied:  "A terrorist act doesn't necessarily have to be conducted by an organization.  An individual can do it on their own."

But one shouldn't be too surprised by Wilson's squeamishness about the "T" word.  When Wilson was the Washington Post's Jerusalem correspondent, he left a lengthy trail of articles softening and sanitizing terror attacks by Palestinian terrorists, while showing no hesitancy in bashing Israel at every turn.

To be fair, Wilson's semantic sins don't necessarily infuse copy written by other Post reporters.  In a front-page sidebar, reporters Jody Warrick and Spencer Hsu write about a "failed terrorist  plot."  In an inside article about the reaction of people in Times Square, reporter Keith Richburg shows no hesitation in writing about an "aborted  terrorist strike."

Wilson, however, resolutely sticks to his signature Orwellian terminology when terrorism  occurs on his beat.  And editors of the Washington Post have no compunction in letting him get away with it.

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