The Washington Times, Chandra Levy and Use of "Illegal Alien"
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In covering the latest developments in the Chandra Levy case (illegal alien felon Ingmar Guandique has emerged as Levy’s suspected killer), the Washington Times reported yesterday that news organizations were “debating whether the words ‘illegal’and ‘immigrant’are too loaded to use in an already emotionally charged story. And maybe even racist.” [Levy suspect's illegal status stirs media debate, Jennifer Harper, March 6, 2009 ]

Last February, an internal memo sent by Patrick Tuohy indicated that the WT has planned to drop “illegal alien” and use “illegal immigrant”. Here’s the email memo:

From: Patrick Tuohy
Date: February 25, 2008 4:43:13 PM EST
To: [email protected]
Cc: Patrick Tuohy
Subject: Style changes


Here are some recent updates to TWT style.

1) Clinton will be the headline word for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

2) Gay is approved for copy and preferred over homosexual, except in clinical references or references to sexual activity.

3) The quotation marks will come off gay marriage (preferred over homosexual marriage).

4) Moderate is approved, but centrist is still allowed.

5) We will use illegal immigrants, not illegal aliens.


A search of Nexis shows that the newspaper has a long history of using “illegal alien” in their reportage: 2561 hits from March 2004 to March 2009.

Some suspect the explicit change of editorial tone, one month after John Solomon took over as editor, reflects the new editor’s liberal tilt.


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