Gabe (A Handful of Sand) writes (emphasis added, see the post for links):
I wanted to add a clear example of just how presposterous [Fox's "suicide bomber"-to-"homicide bomber" conversion] ends up being, especially when it seems like someone just went through and replaced the word "suicide" with "homicide":
New evidence suggests four bombers blew themselves up on the London transportation system last week, killing at least 52 in what could be the first homicide attacks in Western Europe, officials said Tuesday.
The first homicide attacks? Even if one limits this to the first homicide attacks by Islamist terrorists, that's surely false — consider the Madrid bombings. They may well be the first major suicide attacks by Islamist terrorists, though. People who use the clearer, less redundant, and more information-laden "suicide bomber" formulation wouldn't have made this mistake. But people who talk of "homicide bomber" when they mean "bomber who kills people and also commits suicide" did make the mistake.
UPDATE: Some readers correctly pointed out that Fox borrowed the term from others -- most proximately the Bush Administration, though it had been coined earlier. "Its own stylistic innovation" was thus imprecise; I was focusing on the fact that this is Fox's little crotchet, not shared by any of its competitors, and thus innovative within its field, but I should probably have said "its own stylistic idiosyncracy" or some such.
The first uses of this term that I could find in NEXIS, by the way, were in two letters to the editor (Sally Kannemeyer, Newsweek, Oct. 1, 2001 and Daniel Rosenfield, Wash. Post, Oct. 2, 2001) and in a piece by a David Mittman, in Clinician Review, dated Oct. 1, 2001. Then there was a lull, which suggests that it hadn't been used by anyone really famous, or else there probably would have been more reportage or other echoes; but the cluster of publications near Oct. 1 suggest a likely common source, though I don't know which one.
Then in late March 2002, the phrase is used by several Israeli sources, outraged by suicide bombers in Israel. The Bush Administration picked it up in mid-April 2002, and some news outlets followed suit; as best I can tell, Fox is the one that has really made it a part of its lexicon. A quickie search suggests that Administration officials (including Bush) have largely reverted to "suicide bomber," with a few exceptions.
Related Posts (on one page):
- FoxNews "Homicide Attack" Trope Criticized
- Fox Gets Confused By Its Own Stylistic Innovation:
- Why Mention the "Suicide" in Suicide Bomber At All,
- Transcript of the Scotland Yard News Conference Now Up.--
- "Homicide Bomber" Revisited.--
- Scotland Yard Investigates Whether 4 Suicide Bombers Died in the London Attacks.--
- Londoners are Buying bikes to get to work.--
- "Homicide Bomber":
- Were the London attacks suicide bombings?--