Blueprints For Bias: Media style guides censor the truth
By: Daniel Clark
The Associated Press has now prohibited the use of the word “Islamist” when referring to Islamic terrorists. This is the latest in a long line of changes to media style guides, through which news outlets openly announce to their consumers that they are lying to us.
The AP defines “Islamist” as “an advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam.” Its logically inverted justification for the ban is that not all people who meet that description are terrorists. The fact remains that those who try to spread Islam through violence are Islamists, but the AP refuses to call them that anymore, just because it was asked to do so by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The reason the term “Islamist” had gained favor in the first place was that it served to isolate a subgroup of Muslims, in order to placate critics who claimed that phrases like “Islamic terrorists” implied guilt on behalf of the entire religion. Prohibiting the substitute term “Islamists” is just the next step toward decoupling Islamic terrorism from Islam altogether – which, of course, is the whole point.
Even without any variation of the I-word, Reuters banned the word “terrorism” from its lexicon after the 9/11 attacks, based on the willfully oblivious argument that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom-fighter.” Keep that in mind next time an Islamic terrorist murders people for not believing as he does. He’s only fighting for freedom, as “another man” defines it.
Another term recently forbidden by the AP is “illegal immigrant” – the equally accurate “illegal alien” having been jettisoned long ago. This decision was based on the sophomoric bumper sticker slogan that “there’s no such thing as an illegal person.” Well, of course one cannot illegally be a person, but one can illegally be an immigrant, and millions are. They are, very literally, illegal immigrants, but since when does reality matter? The media-preferred term, “undocumented immigrants,” erases any suggestion of wrongdoing on their part, as if they were all victims of a paperwork snafu.
The purpose of a style guide is to clarify information for the readers, not to confound it. Yet each of these changes is meant to withhold pertinent information, for no better reason than that some group of liberals finds it distasteful.
If you’ve followed the Kermit Gosnell trial, you probably haven’t encountered a single reference to him as an “abortionist.” Instead, the media have almost unanimously declared him to be an “abortion doctor,” which is poor usage. When a word is used as a modifier for “doctor,” it tends to indicate the thing that he treats, not the procedure he performs. A heart surgeon, for instance, may be called a “heart doctor,” but never a “heart surgery doctor.” An abortionist does not treat abortions, and therefore should not be called an “abortion doctor.” The papers only use that term because abortionists’ feelings are hurt by the use of the word “abortionist.”
No, really. Third-trimester abortionist Warren Hern, who once ghoulishly observed that “the sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current,” has moped that the word “abortionist” is a “demeaning, degrading term that conveys evil and disgrace.” In other words, it’s very offensively accurate.
The ultimate triumph of feelings over fact can be seen in any story about a transvestite or transsexual. Factually speaking, there is no way that a woman can be turned into a man, either surgically or simply by changing clothes. Nevertheless, anytime a woman “identifies as a man,” the media almost invariably refer to her with masculine pronouns.
The most absurd example of this was the “pregnant man” who gave birth in 2009. The way it was reported, one would have concluded that the laws of biology had been rendered moot. So complete was the lie that even the Guinness Book of World Records was taken in. It really wasn’t so remarkable, considering that the “pregnant man” was in reality a woman.
Had the papers told the truth about Mizz Pregnant Man from the outset, her situation would never have become a national, let alone international, story. To revise the newsman’s rule of thumb, if a dog that identifies as a man bites a man who identifies as a dog, that is not newsworthy. However, it is, sadly enough, the news. That’s what has resulted from the major print media’s prioritizing of style over substance, combined with their judgment that the truth is always out of style.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.