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March 23, 2016

Washington Post Lays Out the Cards Correctly and Calls a Terrorist, a Terrorist


Unlike some news outlets and in contrast to some of its previous articles, in a March 20, 2016 article, The Washington Post eschewed improper terminology in reporting the capture in Belgium of a key Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) member—properly calling a terrorist a terrorist (“Terror suspect’s capture in Brussels came after several watchful days?).

Washington Post reporters James McAuley, Michael Birnbaum and Souad Mekhennet detailed the process that led to the March 18 capture of alleged ISIS member Salah Abdeslam. Abdeslam was described as “the last known surviving participant? in the Nov. 15, 2015 terrorist attacks that murdered 130 people in Paris. He is suspected of being “the logistics chief behind the worst terrorist attack in the French capitol in decades.?

In their coverage, The Post reporters noted that a March 15 police raid on a “suspected terrorist safe house?—during which an Algerian with suspected ISIS ties was killed while resisting arrest—yielded information that led Belgian and French authorities to Abdeslam.

The Post reported that Abdeslam, a French citizen, was apprehended three days later in in “the city’s predominantly Muslim Molenbeek quarter.? The paper, in its own words, the paper noted that after receiving treatment for wounds suffered while resisting arrest, he was charged on March 19 with “participation in terrorist murder? and for “terrorist activities.?

CAMERA has previously pointed out (see, for example, “Martyrs—the New ‘Militants’—and Other Washington Post Word-Play,? March 10, 2016) the tendency of some print news media—including The Post—to use misleading adjectives, such as “militant? and “gunmen,? in substitute for the more accurate “terrorist.? CAMERA also has noted that “the closer terrorists get to Israel, the more likely they are to be transformed linguistically? to a “fighter? or some word that is less descriptive than the reality (“News Media Makeovers—Terrorists Are Militants Are Fighters,? March 11, 2009).

In the paper’s March 23 coverage of the previous day’s ISIS terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium, The Post used “militant? on occasion, but still overwhelmingly employed “terrorist? to describe the murderers (for example “Bombings at Airport, on Subway,? “Obama faces new pressure to forsake his instincts? and “Bombs underline city’s status as a center of Islamist extremism?).

In his 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,? British author George Orwell wrote:

“Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservative to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.?

The crimes of Islamic terrorists are unworthy of respectability, and The Post deserves recognition for not providing them with much of it in these cases.

Posted by SD at March 23, 2016 02:01 PM


The UN complains that a wounded Israeli soldier was treated by Israeli medics before the medics treated the terrorist that stab the soldier.

Posted by: Mabbas at March 30, 2016 01:16 PM

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