The Corner

The “Language of Evasion”

Longtime Newsweek religion reporter Kenneth Woodward wrote an interesting piece for the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy on the New York Times and its “dogmatic” approach to labeling partial-birth abortion in the traditional liberal lingo (type-of-procedure-which-opponents-call), and how the news reporters are basically aping the editorial page:

Since in its headlines the Times refused to name the abortion procedure it was reporting on, how did it define that procedure in the text? A computer analysis of the Times database shows that between 1995 and the end of 2004, the newspaper published more than 200 news articles (excluding personal columns, letters to the editor, wire service reports, and all stories under 200 words) in which “type of abortion” or “form of abortion” was followed immediately by phrases like “which opponents call ‘partial birth abortion.’ ” This linguistic construction was so pervasive that it even appeared in stories dealing with views in South Dakota on the war in Iraq, the Vatican, television coverage of the presidential debates, and other pieces whose primary subjects were far removed from political and legal battles over “partial-birth” abortion. The language of evasion had become a verbal tic.

Tim GrahamTim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, where he began in 1989, and has served there with the exception of 2001 and 2002, when served ...

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