When is a fourteen year old girl not a girl? When she's raped and murdered in Iraq. From Editor & Publisher:
More than two days after the victim of an alleged rape in Iraq -- she was later killed along with with three members of her family -- was identified as a 14-year-old girl, the Associated Press and some other news organizations continued to identify her as a woman.
In a widely-published AP dispatch today from Balad, Iraq, Robert Burns reported, in discussing alleged atrocities by U.S. troops, "Among the most recent cases is the alleged rape and slaying of a young Iraqi woman and the killing of her family members in Mahmoudiyah." At least one other AP story today used similar wording.
This mirrored the language used in several AP articles on Tuesday by Robert Reid and Juan Lozano.
Finally, later on Wednesday, the AP switched over to "girl."
E&P cites several news organizations that have made the same mistake; CNN, BBC, CBS, NYT, L.A. Times, Scripps, and Reuters all are mentioned in the article. But the organization that bothers me most is MSNBC. Just four months ago, reporter Chris Hansen ran a series of investigative reports chronicling a sting operation MSNBC set up to catch child molesters. The series was called To Catch a Predator. Chris Hansen wrote about the experience.
In Southern California, we know that at least two of the men heading our way are registered sex offenders. One of them, who used the screen name “Pavlov1234” looked to be substantially older than the age of 28 he gave the decoy online. I watch him on the monitor in the next room as he enters the house. He strikes me as the kind of guy who may make a run for it. The decoy speaks to him and he freezes. Suddenly he seems more comfortable and decides to hang around.
It turns out he’s really 68. And just 5 months ago, he was arrested for a lewd sex act with a person 15 or younger. Now he’s here after chatting online with someone who told him he was 13. As I am speaking to him, he’s on probation for his previous crime.
We will ultimately learn that he isn't the only one. At least three others have been down this road before.
Yet, in reporting the rape and murder in Iraq, MSNBC said just two days ago:
An al-Qaida-linked group posted a Web video Tuesday purporting to show the mutilated bodies of two U.S. soldiers, claiming it killed them in revenge for the rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman by American troops from the same unit.
The Mujahedeen Shura Council previously claimed responsibility for killing the two soldiers, who were snatched in a June 16 attack near the town of Youssifiyah, southwest of Baghdad. A third soldier was killed in the attack.
The U.S. military has charged five soldiers, including two sergeants, in connection to the March 12 alleged rape-murder of an Iraqi woman in the Youssifiyah area and the killing her parents and a younger sister. The U.S. military released the identities of the suspects Monday.
What's a 'girl' in the US is a 'woman' in Iraq. In their defense, MSNBC reports, "The affidavit estimated the rape victim was about 25. But a doctor at the Mahmoudiya hospital gave her age as 14. He refused to be identified for fear of reprisals." But Reuters had reported on the 9th that "documents obtained by Reuters on Sunday showed the rape victim was aged 14, and not over 20 as U.S. officials have said." MSNBC had last called her a 'young woman' on the 11th.
E&P quotes a letter from a Lawrence Journal-World reader, who wrote the editor of that paper, "I really can’t decide what is more disheartening about the news story regarding the 'young Iraqi woman' who was allegedly raped and killed by U.S. soldiers: the fact that there are armed Americans running around Iraq who evidently don’t view Arab females as human, or the fact that the news media tries to mitigate the magnitude of their alleged crime by referring to the victim as a 'woman.'
"Let’s keep the facts straight here, and let’s not soften the horror by aging the victim semantically. She was a 14-year-old girl."
After after cynically milking child molesters for ratings, MSNBC has downplayed a horrific case of child molestation in Iraq.