Friday, February 18, 2005

IRRELEVANCIES AS EDITORIALIZING

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One of my favorite blogs is Oh, That Liberal Media, which is dedicated to "highlighting liberal bias, agendas, distortions and erroneous reporting in the mainstream media."

One way that a journalist can editorialize in what purports to be a straightforward news story is by injecting irrelevant comments or details that are designed to influence the reader.

I just came across what just might be an example of this (bolded emphasis added):
'Nobody is talking'
The Guardian

The evidence of two new books demonstrates that 9/11 created the will for new, harsher interrogation techniques of foreign suspects by the US and led to the abuses in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. In a special report, James Meek reveals that it is the British who refined these methods, and who have provided the precedent for legalised torture...
...
The most detailed statement about the early thinking on torture in Washington came in August 2002, with a memo to Alberto Gonzales from Jay Bybee, then assistant attorney general. A devout Mormon and a keen kazoo player, Bybee spent seven years in the Reagan and elder Bush administrations, and returned to the capital with the inauguration of Bush Jr. After the Bybee memo was leaked last year, the administration disavowed it with a new, milder legal opinion. Their disavowal might have been more convincing had the departing Bybee not been rewarded with a federal judgeship in Las Vegas.

In the memo, Bybee's concern is not with the wellbeing of suspects, but with the risk that a US government employee might be prosecuted....
What in the world does Bybee's religious affiliation or kazoo-playing have to do with the story?