In 1984 George Orwell portrays the importance of language in controlling thought. The totalitarian regime depicted in the novel had developed its own language — Newspeak — to meet the ideological needs of Oceania. In the novel’s appendix on the language, Orwell explains:
In the year 1984 there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles of the Times were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a specialist.
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc [the regime’s ideology], but to make all other modes of thought impossible.
And so today, in the furor created by the New York Times stories by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, the Times and its media allies seek to impose the yoke of their thought on readers in order to stifle if not control the debate — “to make all other modes of thought impossible.” Let’s call the lingo “Timesspeak” in honor of Orwell.
Here are two critical examples of Timesspeak in action:
1. References to the NSA eavesdropping program as “domestic spying.” See, for example, the Times story on the investigation of the leaks underlying the story: “Justice Dept. Inquiry into leak of domestic spying.” Contrary to the language used by the Times, the program is one of foreign intelligence surveillance; it is not a domestic spying program. Like the authorities in Oceania, the Times seeks to dictate the politically correct attitude to the subject.
2. Implications that the “nearly a dozen current and former government officials” who leaked the highly classified information on which the Risen/Lichtblau stories are based are “whistle-blowers.” The linked Times story quotes Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project: “The whole reason we have whistle-blower laws is so that government workers can act as the public’s eyes and ears to expose illegality or abuse of power.” Yet no whistle-blower law authorizes government employees to report allegedly illegal conduct to the New York Times.
On the contrary, federal law (18 U.S.C