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reword reward

Victory! The New York Times called a denier a denier.

Bowing to mounting criticism to affirm climate science, the paper replaced  “Climate Change Dissenter” with “Climate Change Denialist” in a headline announcing Trump’s EPA pick Scott Pruitt.

The Times has referred to deniers as deniers before, but the move to change an already published headline is rarer given the Grey Lady’s tendency to hedge on what they consider “political” language, including their refusal to refer to the “alt-right” as “white supremacists.”

The rewording marks a little victory at a time when terminology is increasingly important. Spurious or bigoted beliefs can slip into mainstream thought without betraying what they really mean. The Associated Press recently announced it would use the term “white supremacist,” not “alt-right.” Regarding climate science, the AP’s prefers “climate change doubters.”

Times headlines still have a ways to go. Take this one: “Trump’s Meeting With Al Gore Gives Environmental Activists Hope.” We’d love to see which edition of the Oxford English Dictionary the Times is working with, because we at Grist have a very different definition of hope.