Earlier this week (1/10/11) I wrote, given how short corporate media's memories are, "Let's hope that when someone convenes a civility in media discussion in 2020, they don't ask Glenn Beck to weigh in." No need to wait that long. Time magazine has convened a panel to talk about civility in our public discourse. And the first contribution is from…well, take a look: Now in fairness, the listis alphabetical. But seriously– was Michael Savage too busy?
Right-wing pundits have come out vociferously against the idea that they, their colleagues and the political movement they identify with have anything to answer for in the wake of the Tucson massacre. David Brooks (New York Times, 1/11/11) asserted that "the evidence before us suggests that [shooting suspect Jared] Loughner was locked in a world far removed from politics as we normally understand it," rejecting as "vicious charges" the notion that the gunman "unleashed his rampage because he was incited by the violent rhetoric of the Tea Party, the anti-immigrant movement and Sarah Palin." George Will (Washington Post, 1/11/11) bitterly […]
Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson writes an important column today (1/12/11) about right-wing rhetoric and the Tucson shootings. Meyerson's point is that discussing certain symbols–like the Sarah Palin "cross hairs" map–makes little sense without understanding the paranoid worldview that is advanced by right-wing leaders and commentators like Glenn Beck. When folks like Beck and Erick Erickson use threats of violence in discussion flu vaccines and Census workers, it's an articulation of their worldview. The primary problem with the political discourse of the right in today's America isn't that it incites violence per se. It's that it implants and reinforces paranoid […]
Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources (1/10/11), Time's Joe Klein denouncedthe "crap" on the Fox News Channel. And as many pundits are prone to do, he found the need to balance that by citing a comparable example from the "other" side: Well, that brings me to point number two…. Cable news chooses not to really deal with complicated issues with the level of complexity that they deserve. I was on Ed Schultz's show to discuss Afghanistan. I was just back from there. It is the most complicated issue imaginable. And the guy writes on a piece of paper, "Get out now," […]
Last night (O'Reilly Factor, 1/10/11), Bill O'Reillytalking to Brit Hume: O'REILLY: We have a network, an entire network that's built around attacking Fox News and right-wing people. That's all they do at MSNBC. They have nothing else. HUME: How's that working out for them? O'REILLY: It's not working out for them. But it does mean that I have to have 24-hour security. That I have to worry about my children being assaulted. OK? That's what it means. You talking about nuts? These people ignite those nuts all day long. I don't see the equivalency of talk radio. I said that […]
On CBS's Face the Nation (1/9/11), host Bob Schieffer declared: Democracy's arguments have never been pretty, but technology has changed the American dialogue because we can now know of problems instantly. We expect answers immediately and when we don't get them, we let everyone know in no uncertain terms. We scream and shout, hurl charges without proof. Those on the other side of the argument become not opponents but enemies. Dangerous inflammatory words are used with no thought of consequence. Schieffer singled out one exceptional political leader: "In an eloquent statement, the new Republican House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday's […]
One theme in the coverage of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffordsconcerns whether the tone of the political debate will change. That's probably going to happen in the short-term. A long-term shift is unlikely. There have been frequent allusions to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the nationaldiscussion that ensued at the time about violent rhetoric on right-wing talk shows. See Extra!'s 1995 article "AM Armies" for more background. Roughly 10 years later, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough convened a panel (4/27/05) to discuss talk radio extremism, in the wake of incendiary comments made by Air America's Randi Rhodes. As FAIR […]
Today in the New York Times Paul Krugman (1/10/11) suggests that we not pretend that "both sides" are responsible for toxic political rhetoric: Where's that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let's not make a false pretense of balance: It's coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It's hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be "armed and dangerous" without being ostracized; but Rep. Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the GOP. …Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you'll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won't […]