Who did they think they were fooling? I wondered… a little drunkenly now, I must confess. These high-born Lords of the News, spoon-feeding us their carefully selected diet of euphemisms. Rebels, militia, Palestinians, insurgents, French youths. Did they think we were sitting here, thinking, Hm, I guess those dark-skinned, angry-looking killers named Muhammed all over the world aren’t radical Muslims after all. Now I will not be prejudiced against their religion. Didn’t they understand that we were bouncing on the sofa, screaming all the louder for our frustration, Hey, News-clowns! Tell the truth for once in your useless lives! Say the word! Say some word. Islamo-fascists! Jihadis! Something. Ya dumb f***s. Ya dumb, useless, lying, elitist f***s.
– From my novel Empire of Lies. If you haven’t read it, click the link.
When I was at university, I took a course in journalism for which I was required to write a term paper. My paper — which, as I recall, was cleverly titled “Who is You?” — was on the use of the word “you” in local newscasts. I watched several newscasts for a week, then tried to determine what assumptions lay behind the anchors’ use of the word in sentences such as, “You won’t have to start for work quite so early anymore…” or “You could find some good news in your mailbox this month.”
I thought of this term paper last week as I watched some of the occasionally insane coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt for two radical Islamic brothers. After nearly tying themselves in knots to avoid mentioning the terror suspects’ religion, one reporter on CNN actually said — I quote from memory but the sentiment is exact– “The suspects are being described as Muslim. That’s just a detail that’s being supplied, it has no more meaning than that.” According to Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters, NBC simply didn’t mention Islam at all on its April 19th Nightly News or Today programs. And the Boston Globe actually ran a headline that read, “Islam might have had secondary role in Boston attacks.”