Huffington’s Orwell Awards

August 18, 2006 | By | 1 Reply More

In 1946 (In Politics and the English Language) George Orwell wrote the following:

[P]olitical chaos is connected with the decay of language… one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.

In Huffpo, Arianna Huffington has written a good post regarding government/media double-speak.   Here is the problem, according to Huffington:

From “slam dunk” on WMD to “Mission Accomplished” to the insurgency being in its “last throes,” the refusal to describe reality with something even approximating truth is having disastrous consequences on our political life.

We’ll never be able to have a serious debate about what to do in Iraq and elsewhere if we don’t describe reality accurately. Politicians are, of course, always going to try to use rhetoric to their advantage, and spin their accomplishments in the best possible light. But there is a tipping point where the debate becomes so divorced from reality that the spin becomes outright deception.

Huffington’s award for most fraudulent statements went to CNN’s Chuck Roberts, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and ABC’s Martha Raddatz.  Lots of good comments to her post offer further nominations.

At the end of her post, Huffington points out that the National Council of Teachers of English  also gives out annual awards for “Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language.  The 2006 winner has not yet been determined.  The 2005 winner was “Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” Cast.”

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Category: American Culture, Communication, Language, Media, Politics, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    Erich's post is very timely. Just this week, a federal judge declared Bush's warrantless wiretapping to be unconstitutional (see here). Although this decision likely surprised no one who knows anything about constitutional law (even those within the Bush Administration), the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Michigan's Pete Hoekstra, was nevertheless eager to discredit the judge's unfavorable ruling: "It is disappointing that a judge would take it upon herself to disarm America during a time of war."

    Who's he trying to kid? He makes it sound like this judge searched out this case to advance some personal political objective of undermining American national security. Obviously, his comment is just part of the Republican ongoing political strategy of branding any unfavorable judicial opinion as that of an "activist judge," but it is annoying when people in the legislative branch of our government make such misleading remarks about people in the judicial branch, especially since he knows that no federal judge would ever shoot back with the blistering rebuttal he so desperately deserves.

    Like too many Republicans, Hoekstra was eager to discredit any unfavorable judicial opinion by attacking the judge for alleged "activism," instead of addressing the actual issues in the case.

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