‘Hikers’ or ‘Spies’ ?

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on May 26, 2010

[NOTE: This excerpt below refers to three American hikers – Sarah Shourd, 31; Shane Bauer, 27; and Josh Fattal, 27, – who were arrested along the Iraqi border 10 months ago. Iran has accused them of espionage and entering the country illegally; their families say the three were hiking in Iraq’s largely peaceful mountainous northern Kurdish region and that if they crossed the border, they did it accidentally.]

Remember “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”? This was Reuters’ justification for using scare quotes around the word terrorist, even when referring to the 9/11 attack. Check out this headline from a Sunday Reuters dispatch: “Iran Says U.S. ‘Hikers’ Spies, Proposes Prisoner Swap.”

Scare quotes around hikers but not spies? For our part, we’d call them hostages, but even by Reuters standards this is an inversion. We could see putting “Spies” in scare quotes, since that is merely the Iranian regime’s claim (and a baseless one, to judge by the Reuters report). But is there even any dispute that they were hiking at the time they were captured?

Read the original post at OpinionJournal.com. (It is almost halfway down the page: “There You ‘Go Again,’ Reuters”)