By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Waterboarding and the T-word

A recent study by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, part of Harvard’s Kennedy School, shows that our largest newspapers invariably referred to waterboarding as torture before the Bush-Cheney administration began using it on terrorism suspects — and almost never thereafter.

In my latest for the Guardian, I argue that the media’s failure to call waterboarding by its proper name helped contribute to a dishonest conversation about what was done in our name during the darkest years of the Bush presidency.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Twitter juxtaposition of the day


Please join us for a “Mockingbird” reading


  1. Steve Stein

    Waterboarding during the Bush-Cheney years (and after?) can’t be torture, otherwise we would be treaty-bound to prosecute it. We’re not prosecuting anyone, so there must have been no torture, right?

  2. Benjamin Rivard-Rapoza

    There’s definitely significance to the word torture – otherwise the supporters of water boarding wouldn’t have coining the term “enhanced interrogation technique.” But avoiding the T-word hasn’t necessarily swayed public opinion.
    This poll
    by CNN found that one in five Americans support water boarding even though they believe it to be torture.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén