Thursday, July 01, 2010

It was...

until it wasn't?

Fascinating study by researchers at Harvard University about the media's characterization of waterboarding before and then after the Abu Ghraib scandal.

I do have some quibbles with the study. I think the methodology is a bit weak, and I'm not sure I support the idea of comparing three newspapers that have long histories alongside one that is relatively new. Moreover, the authors do not clearly identify the hypotheses or research questions that guided their study. The conclusion section could have been strengthened as well.

Setting these issues aside, the study is a damning piece of evidence suggesting the American media backed off a historical linkage of waterboarding with torture because the U.S. government was employing the practice. Absent a justification for such a de-linkage, we are left to conclude that the media muted their criticism because of a need to defend those accused of doing it.

That's not watchdog journalism.

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