On the one hand you shouldn't invest too much time in such minor nuances, on the other hand, when there seems to be a pattern of such nuances, it takes on an interesting aspect in aggregate.
In this case, what caught my eye was this (emphasis added):
“We believe that both subjects were radicalized and for quite some time,” said David Bowdich, the F.B.I. assistant director in charge at a news conference here, speaking of the husband and wife team, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who were gunned down by the authorities after they attacked a conference center last Wednesday.Yes, technically accurate. But is it quite right? "Gunned down by the authorities" makes it sound like the authorities executed them. But we now know that they initiated a gun battle with the police and were killed in that battle. An alternative phrasing that would be even more accurate might be:
“We believe that both subjects were radicalized and for quite some time,” said David Bowdich, the F.B.I. assistant director in charge at a news conference here, speaking of the husband and wife team, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who died attacking the police after they attacked a conference center last Wednesday.I have no reason to believe that Nagourney has even an ounce of sympathy for jihadist terrorists and yet his words, perhaps simply ill-chosen, seem to convey a degree of victimhood to the perpetrators that is not well aligned with the facts. They chose to kill 14 innocent Americans and then chose to attack the police once they were discovered. This has nothing to do with the police (based on accounts so far) and it seems odd to use wording that might lead a reader to think there was something amiss about the police.
On its own this wording issue is virtually nothing. In aggregate with lots of passive wording (they were radicalized, etc.) it takes responsibility for their actions away from the perpetrators and locates it in the ether. That's misleading.