In the city in which the NYT news page insists on calling torture “harsh” or “enhanced interrogation” when America does it, I’m not surprised that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly objects to news outlets calling his spying spying.
“I just wish the media would show some responsibility and use the words ‘surveillance’ or ‘police investigation’ rather than ‘spying.’ To use that term, to be accusing you of ‘spying,’ is, to me, really offensive,” Mr. [Peter] King said, asking Mr. Kelly what he thought of the issue.
“It’s a pejorative term, it sells well,” Mr. Kelly responded. “They forget we’ve the subject of 14 plots since 9/11 … We’ve been lucky. We just have been lucky.”
Mr. King also discussed the political implications of the debate. He said the “spying” rhetoric “puts a cloud over what you’re trying to do. That’s why I worry about the campaign and whoever the next mayor happens to be, if it’s against the back drop of ‘spying’ charges.”
I can see why Peter King worries about the political implications of spying. He heartily approved of the NYPD spying on 28 businesses in his own district. He even applauded the NYPD spying on kosher businesses–after having mocked such an idea as ridiculous–after CBS stole my reporting on the topic and confronted him with the fact that NYPD was, indeed, spying on Iranian Jews as well as Muslims.
So King, who faces voters in November, celebrates NYPD’s baseless spying on his constituents and, even when confronted with the stupidity of the NYPD’s spying choices, ultimately supports them unquestioningly. But he’s beginning to worry about the political implications of such brainless boosterism.
And Kelly just thinks (unsurprisingly given the treatment he’s usually accorded) the press should supinely heed his demand that they use euphemisms to dress up his spying program (while not objecting to the accuracy of the term, I might add).
While we’re discussing supine treatment, what is the word Kelly would prefer we use to describe the decision to have a booster like Peter King, guest hosting a radio show, invite Ray Kelly in to attack his critics and defend the department’s spying?
I always seem to get this particular euphemism wrong.