Rep. J.C. Watts, Jr., R.-Okla., is urging the London-based Reuters news service to reconsider its recently stated position of not using the word ‘terrorist’ to describe the 19 Islamic terrorists who collectively killed approximately 6,000 Americans Sept. 11.
“I fail to see how this noun is not an accurate portrayal of the aggressors who committed the acts of violence witnessed by the entire world last month,” Watts wrote Wednesday in a letter to Tom Glover, chief executive officer and Geert Linnebank, editor-in-chief of the Reuters Group in London.
“I am not asking Reuters to be Radio Free Afghanistan. Rather, I am merely
requesting that you not sever the word “terrorist” from your stylebook,” he wrote.
Last week, Stephen Jukes, Reuters’ global head of news, decreed that the wire service’s 2,500 reporters shouldn’t use the word “terrorist” unless in a direct quote.
“We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist,” Jukes wrote in an internal memo. “To be frank, it adds little to call the attack on the World Trade Center a terrorist attack.”
Attempting to explain his values-neutral approach, Jukes added: “We’re trying to treat everyone on a level playing field, however tragic it’s been and however awful and cataclysmic for the American people and people around the world.”
Watts, who serves as the House Republican Conference Chairman, also sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to every member of the House of Representatives, urging them to let Reuters know how they feel.
In a related matter, the Religion Newswriters Association voted recently to avoid using the word “Islamic” to describe the 19 Islamic terrorists. The group said it was “troubled” by the frequent use of the term in the days after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.” At its annual meeting, the group adopted a resolution also rejecting “similar phrases that associate an entire religion with the action of a few.”