Weapons of Mass Deception: Doublespeak

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Doublespeak" is the title of chapter four of the book, Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq.

Key points


  1. What do you make of George Orwell's assertion - made in 1946 - that "political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness"?
  2. Is it possible to read through doublespeak without understanding an issue? Are most people willing to spend their free hours in a day trying to understand, for example, why the United States is attacking a country not tied to 9/11?
  3. When will the War on Terrorism end? Discuss Donald Rumsfeld's response to this question.
  4. Why does the United States have different standards for itself regarding weapons of mass destruction? Why does the media use the term "harboring" when discussing whether Iraq has any such weapons, whereas the term "weapons of mass destruction" is never used to describe the weapons in the United States arsenals?
  5. What does a government refer to when it uses the phrase "collateral damage"?


  1. Find a news article online that quotes the Bush administration talking about the Iraq War, the War on Terrorism, etc. Select a paragraph and see if you can detect any doublespeak. See the example that Rampton and Stauber give on pp. 120-121.
  2. Read Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" (from which the chapter's beginning quotation it drawn. It's available online.) Why do the authors quote it? How is it relevant today?
  3. Look at the doublespeak examples listed on SourceWatch. Do you agree with all of the examples listed? Should some of them be changed or taken off the list?