In torture news today, there's a study out demonstrating what those following the issue already knew: that editors decided not to use the word "torture" for Bush-era torture policy, despite using that word in the past when other nations used torture. In Andrew Sullivan's words, they failed to tell "the unvarnished truth to their readers and listeners in plain English."
I am generally sympathetic to Adam Serwer's speculation about the causes for this failure, which center on the media's institutional norm of even-handedness rather than on, say, the media's institutional norm of cravenness. But (and I think Serwer agrees): that's an explanation, not an excuse.
I don't have much to add here. This was a clear, serious, disastrous failure by the New York Times and other newspapers and broadcasters. I believe the Times has a new "public editor;" it seems to me that this issue is by for the most important item for that agenda.