Oh, That Liberal Media provides an example of one of those media code phrases used by journalists when they want to sneer at a colorful description of a particular group or practice:
OK. Good set up against a heinous, barbaric practice, right? Well, um, maybe not. 'Cause in the eighth paragraph we read the following (emphasis mine):That the media uses this phrasing wouldn't be so bad, if it were used consistently. Of course, it never is; when the media agrees with a characterization, they adopt it as their own. In a New York Times piece on a campaign by death penalty opponents to punish doctors who participate in executions, Adam Liptak uses this description:This was something her mother had done before her. She started as an apprentice while still an adolescent by holding down girls' legs for her mother to perform the rite, which opponents call genital mutilation. "I thought my mother would curse me from the grave if I didn't carry on the tradition," she said.As James Taranto notes (to whom goes the hat tip for this entry), this is yet another example of "...the press's use of Orwellian language to promote an attitude of moral relativism--Reuters' policy that "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter" and the pervasive formulation "what opponents call 'partial-birth abortion'. "
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the director of health research for the consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, said Dr. Rao and others like him should be disciplined. "The state medical boards should just yank the licenses of these people," Dr. Wolfe said.(Emphasis added.) To his credit, Liptak does point out that this has nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with opposition to the death penalty. But what is it with the Times that every group to the right of the ACLU is described as "right wing" or "conservative" or the like, but Public Citizen is described as a "consumer advocacy organization"? How about "Public Citizen, what supporters call a consumer advocacy organization," or "Public Citizen, the self-described consumer advocacy organization"? Or "Public Citizen, the purported consumer advocacy organization that's actually a left-wing lobbying group and a front for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America"?
It's bad enough that they pretend that Public Citizen is a neutral consumer advocacy group in articles about consumer advocacy. But Wolfe is conducting his anti-death penalty campaign not in an individual capacity, but in his role as a Public Citizen official. Whether one supports or opposes the death penalty, an honest person would have to admit that it has nothing to do with consumer advocacy. And yet the Times blithely goes on describing them as if they were an apolitical group with no hidden agenda.