Archive for July 2, 2010

Sports Frenzy

July 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Germany's Mesut Özil scoring against Ghana

[Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters]

Two weeks ago, in my sports roundup, I warned that “July is always the peak sporting month of the year for me. There’s always the weekend when Wimbledon ends and the Tour de France starts. … ” I went on to note that on top of the usual wealth of events, this year brings us the World Cup.

Well, that first weekend is upon us. Tomorrow morning, the Wimbledon women’s final between Serena Williams and Vera Zvonareva starts just after 6:00 AM (Seattle time). Coverage of the opening stage of the Tour de France will start shortly after — an 8.9 kilometer time trial through Rotterdam. Normally, that would be plenty. But remember, there’s that World Cup going on, and 7:00 AM marks the start of what may be its most interesting game, Argentina versus Germany.

Sadly, the two teams are meeting in the quarter-finals. Based on the quality of their play so far, they would be worthy championship game opponents. And of course, at 11:30, by which time the tennis and cycling will be long over, Spain will meet Paraguay in the last of the four quarter-finals.

What to do? That’s easy. Argentina-Germany takes precedence. Williams may steamroll Zvonareva, and if she doesn’t, I’m content to catch up on the drama later. I am eager to see the Tour coverage. I can’t wait to be re-united with my pals Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen as they talk cycling and scenery. But it too can be shifted without harm. Argentina-Germany could be a game for the ages. Watch it if you can.

Categories: Sports

NYT on Torture, Revisited

July 2, 2010 Leave a comment

A year ago last week, I wrote about the NYT’s policy of referring to waterboarding, when practiced by the CIA, as “enhanced” or “harsh” or “brutal” interrogation but not as torture. Two months earlier, the NYT’s Public Editor, Clark Hoyt (who stepped down last month), addressed this issue in his weekly column, quoting NYT editor Douglas Jehl’s explanation that in discussing waterboarding,

I have resisted using torture without qualification or to describe all the techniques. Exactly what constitutes torture continues to be a matter of debate and hasn’t been resolved by a court. This president and this attorney general say waterboarding is torture, but the previous president and attorney general said it is not. On what basis should a newspaper render its own verdict, short of charges being filed or a legal judgment rendered?

Hoyt continued, “Jehl argued for precision and caution. I agree.” I disagreed, wondering why the paper shouldn’t try to discern the truth.

The cowardice, dishonesty, and hypocrisy of the paper was revealed unambiguously in an April report released publicly just this week by a group of students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Here is a key passage:

The current debate over waterboarding has spawned hundreds of newspaper articles in the last two years alone. However, waterboarding has been the subject of press attention for over a century. Examining the four newspapers with the highest daily circulation in the country, we found a significant and sudden shift in how newspapers characterized waterboarding. From the early 1930s until the modern story broke in 2004, the newspapers that covered waterboarding almost uniformly called the practice torture or implied it was torture: The New York Times characterized it thus in 81.5% (44 of 54) of articles on the subject and The Los Angeles Times did so in 96.3% of articles (26 of 27). By contrast, from 2002‐2008, the studied newspapers almost never referred to waterboarding as torture. The New York Times called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture in just 2 of 143 articles (1.4%). . . . In addition, the newspapers are much more likely to call waterboarding torture if a country other than the United States is the perpetrator. In The New York Times, 85.8% of articles (28 of 33) that dealt with a country other than the United States using waterboarding called it torture or implied it was torture while only 7.69% (16 of 208) did so when the United States was responsible.

Read more…

Categories: Journalism, Torture