Center for Citizen Media Rotating Header Image

Surges and Orwell

Columbia Journalism Review: Parsing the “Surge”: Now we have “surge,” the word that’s been recruited by the administration to sum up its new Iraq policy, to be unveiled in a speech tomorrow night. Used to describe the addition of 20,000 troops to the Baghdad area, “surge” has become, in the last few weeks, part of the public discourse on Iraq (i.e., as one anonymous Republican strategist told the New York Times, “They’re going to cast it as a choice between withdrawal and surge”). The word has the benefit of seeming active, strong, and quick – a surge is a lightening strike, over and done, the opposite of, say, a quagmire. The other advantage is the other words that “surge” replaces, like “escalation,” with its Vietnam-era connotation.

The task for the press has been to make sure that it’s clear that this is President Bush’s word, a descriptor that at the very least belongs within quotation. So far, so good. It seems that a history of being burned by insufficient skepticism of the Bush administration and its policies has taught journalists and editors to put nearly everything in quotes.

The media’s willingness — again — to be stenographers instead of actual journalists is tiring. Not surprising, though.

1 Comment on “Surges and Orwell”

  1. #1 Comrade O'Brien
    on Jan 12th, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Attention Comrades,
    Please visit to learn about our Orwellian protest of the Military Commissions Act.