The former executive editor of the New York Times recently wrote the following sentence on his blog:
The editors (I was one at the time) argued that what constituted torture was still a matter of debate, that this issue was not just linguistic but legal and had not yet been resolved by a court, and that the word was commonly applied to such a range of practices as to be imprecise.
This is untrue. As I subsequently pointed out, there is a plethora of court cases that deal with the techniques Bush and Cheney authorized, and all of them found them to be torture. None had even the slightest equivocation about it. In fact, the one torture tactic that both former president Bush and former veep Dick Cheney have openly bragged about – waterboarding – has been ruled torture by domestic and international courts for decades. You could argue that there was a debate about some of the techniques, but not waterboarding in any way shape or form. If you were squeamish, you could have used the term “torture and other brutal interrogation techniques” in the NYT to describe the policies of the US government under Bush and Cheney. But Keller didn’t. Even that was too daring for him.
A factual untruth is still sitting on the blog of the former executive editor of the NYT. He has now written a subsequent post without any correction of the previous one, and not responded to the mountain of comments taking him to task. He appears to be compounding his cowardly refusal to use the English language when editing the paper with uncorrected factual untruth on his blog. And people wonder why journalists are held in such low regard.
If the former editor of the NYT doesn’t bother correcting the record, why should anyone else?