Simon Maloy
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Media Matters: Changing The Tone, Or Changing Our Understanding?

January 14, 2011 5:21 pm ET

Before the full scope of the tragedy at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ) event in Tucson this weekend had been realized, the media were buzzing about what was to be done. The debate quickly landed on issues of tone and violent language and maps with crosshairs and who's to blame and who isn't. Loud and angry confrontations broke out over whether the tone of our national discourse motivated a lone gunman. Such things are difficult to determine with any sort of accuracy. Regardless, the occasion of a brutal attack on a politician and her constituents is as good a reason as any to reexamine how we discuss politics in America.

It's easy to get wrapped up in your own cynicism, to hear the impassioned calls to curtail the talk radio bomb-throwing and Fox News scare-mongering that for years have provided the background noise to our national discourse, and be utterly and justifiably unsurprised when the volume is instead turned up. Or you can feel frustrated for harboring the hope that if any good could possibly be leached from a horrific act of violence it would perhaps be that the pundits and partisans might tone it down a bit, and then seeing that hope dashed by the immediate resumption of scathing vitriol.

I can confess to experiencing both of these contradictory emotions in the past week. But after watching President Obama's speech at the memorial service in Tucson and seeing the right-wing reaction to it, it has become clear that calls for changing the tone of our political discourse invariably fail because they place the responsibility on the same hyperpartisan actors who are paid quite well to debase it.

And let's not fool ourselves with the forced symmetry of "both sides do it," which is all too often employed in the media's overriding quest for "balance" at the expense of accuracy. On Monday, the New Yorker's George Packer observed:

In fact, there is no balance -- none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side's activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can't stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

Consider, briefly, Rush Limbaugh, who can make a legitimate claim to being the most influential pundit in America. In response to the pleas for civility that arose in the aftermath of the shooting, Limbaugh went on a deliberate crusade to make AM radio as ugly as possible. He said the alleged shooter has the support of the Democratic Party, intimated that the health care reform bill was intended to foment violence of the sort we saw in Arizona, brashly declared "we don't need to heal," and attacked the president for delivering hopeful news about Rep. Giffords' recovery.

Sentiments such as these are ineffably crass and are antithetical to calls for "more civility" -- but what else should we expect from Rush Limbaugh? As if to reaffirm that his existence is dedicated to poisoning public dialogue, he even revisited this week one of his low watermarks from years past, defending his attacks on Michael J. Fox's struggle with Parkinson's Disease.

So no, we can not expect right-wing pundits to police their own rhetoric. But if the punditry won't change on its own, what's to be done? The hope lies instead in drawing contrasts and hopefully, by doing so, changing how people come to view political dialogue.

A good example can be found in the right's longstanding efforts to impugn President Obama's patriotism. The idea of "American exceptionalism" has been used as a cudgel against the president since before his election, and it's had some effect -- a poll from late 2009 found that 26 percent of Americans (including 48 percent of Republicans) did not believe that Obama "loves America." The issue of Obama's patriotic bona fides has promised to be the major talking point of the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Before this week, it was commonplace for conservative pundits and politicians to blithely assert Obama's anti-American leanings and not face any scrutiny for the allegation.

But the shock of Saturday's shootings left America looking to the president for guidance, and his speech urged the country to find solace in the greatness of American strength and decency. That message made the churlish attacks on Obama's patriotism look even pettier and more divorced from reality than they already are. The desperate, false attacks on Obama's speech from his determinedly partisan detractors were aggressively debunked by the mainstream press and even denounced by right-wing bloggers. It was one of those rare moments in politics in which reality scored a crushing defeat over caricature.

That's where the power to affect positive change in the discourse lies. This week America saw the overheated rhetoric of the right for what it is: misleading, incendiary, and false. But the conservative media aren't going to pack up their chalkboards and golden microphones anytime soon, so it's up to the mainstream press to continue being as aggressive in challenging those distortions as the right is in promulgating them.

Of course, it's entirely likely that this moment of clarity will remain just that -- a moment. And it's certainly not encouraging that the media have, to date, been as (if not more) likely to adopt false right-wing narratives as debunk them. But that's no reason to give up hope, and it's certainly no reason to stop telling the truth.

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    • Author by imacynic (January 14, 2011 5:31 pm ET)
      1 10
      The debate between the left and right isn't the cause for violence. The left simply wants to use this as an opportunity to quiet the right by making all these claims about how good the right is at being inflammatory, blah blah blah.

      For the left there must always be a victim - who is not fully culpable, and should be coddled rather than punished; and there must always be a perpetrator - who is fully culpable and must be punished.

      At the end of the day people on the left wake up miserable, stay miserable, go to sleep miserable, and then repeat. There is no changing this no matter what happens. If they were to be happy there would be no victims and perpetrators and they'd be out of a job, or hobby, or whatever it is they do with their time.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by Major Tom (January 14, 2011 6:19 pm ET)
      27 4
      "Yorker's George Packer observed:

      In fact, there is no balance -- none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side's activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can't stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous."

      Succinct. I've never seen it said so Perfectly stated. 'any sentient American knows which side..." We can only hope.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by curiousindependent (January 14, 2011 6:28 pm ET)
        20  
        The sentient ones aren't, and never have been, the problem.

        Report Abuse
        • Author by grrson (January 16, 2011 9:56 am ET)
          10 2
          Exactly.

          The ones who pack their AR-15s into the family minivan before taking the whole brood to a Sarah Palin fundraiser are merely passengers on the train of hate driven by far-right pundits like Limbaugh and Beck.

          Those kinds of people believe what they are told to and will reject any rational, fact-based challenge to their worldview.
          Report Abuse
    • Author by steeve (January 14, 2011 6:30 pm ET)
      18  
      The mainstream media already has enough trouble comprehending "true stuff good, false stuff bad". Now it's forever beyond their reach. If total falsehoods are told politely, the media will be content.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by wesley (January 14, 2011 7:31 pm ET)
        11 15
        Well said steeve.

        Two sentences that nailed the problem to the wall...the problem is not with the American public...it's with the American media.

        The news media of today has become like their counterparts in the sports world. The goal of most sports writers is to drum up readers and viewers and listeners by promoting controversy...any controversy...real or made up.

        I firmly believe that political discourse between the average, everyday citizens is no worse today than in the past. Yet, the incessant jabbering by the newly available electronic media is where the vitriol and bickering originates. In most cases it generates little more than paychecks for those participating.

        For example, take mmfa...and this is not a slam on them. What do they really contribute to solutions for any of the problems confronting us today?

        Yes, I'm fully aware of their yeoman's work in providing accurate and substantial information to counter conservative misinformation. But in reality, mostly what they have accomplished is providing paychecks for a large staff and accomplish little in the way of shaping public opinion.

        They found a niche...provided by conservatives willing to bend or outright break the bounds of truth. And yep, those same conservatives have accomplished little more than providing paychecks on their side of the ledger.

        There are fringe elements in society today...just like there has been since the Pilgrims arrived. The only thing that has changed is the availability of electronic megaphones to amplify those radical positions. And they have found a small part of America that believe like they do.

        They have found a small group of choir members to preach to but really don't have that much influence. If any of these cable networks were really leading a charge in a changing American pysche their numbers would be rising dramatically. In fact, if you look at the ratings of the leading cable news outlets you'll find their numbers have stagnated.

        In reality, mmfa and their archenemies on the right have accomplished little beyond establishing a business model that produces paychecks...and there is not one thing wrong with being entrepreneurs.

        But I firmly believe that the vast majority of American citizens don't rely on these ventures to form political opinions...they still do it the old fashioned way.

        Their attitudes develop through daily associations with parents, relatives, friends and peers...just like it has always been.
        Report Abuse
        • Author by steeve (January 14, 2011 8:07 pm ET)
          8  
          Sports media runs laps around political media. More accurate with more diversity of opinion.

          "Their attitudes develop through daily associations with parents, relatives, friends and peers" -- thousands of hours of such discussion are routinely invalidated by a single fact that nobody in the room possesses. Ten minutes of google are more informative than 24 hours of CNN.
          Report Abuse
          • Author by wesley (January 14, 2011 8:15 pm ET)
            6 1
            -- Ten minutes of google are more informative than 24 hours of CNN. -- steeve

            Amen brother Ben!!
            Report Abuse
        • Author by dandelion (January 14, 2011 8:13 pm ET)
          23 1
          For example, take mmfa...and this is not a slam on them. What do they really contribute to solutions for any of the problems confronting us today?

          Yes, I'm fully aware of their yeoman's work in providing accurate and substantial information to counter conservative misinformation. But in reality, mostly what they have accomplished is providing paychecks for a large staff and accomplish little in the way of shaping public opinion.


          You might not be aware of just how bad things were before MMFA. No one, and I mean NO ONE, disputed the lies that came out of conservative media. They just became accepted truth (see: "liberal media").

          It wasn't until MMFA, followed by the larger liberal blogosphere, started challenging the misinformation that the lazy and timid mainstream media were forced to pay attention and examine the falsehoods more closely.

          MMFA has done a tremendous service in restoring honesty in public debate and has a huge impact on shaping public opinion, as far as I'm concerned.
          Report Abuse
          • Author by Jeremy Danials (January 14, 2011 8:39 pm ET)
            20 2
            Let us also not forget to thank Sen Franken (D-MN)for his work on the subject in Lies, making it not only readable to someone who was only beginning to understand the Fox style of lie (me), but making it a fun read as well!

            And RESEARCHED!
            Report Abuse
        • Author by overmars jr. (January 14, 2011 8:48 pm ET)
          21  
          Sweet Moses, you are full of it to the brim. A whoooooooole lot of babble all to forward the ridiculous notion that a watchdog outlet with integrity like MMfA poisons the debate as much as the army of maniacal liars for hire on the far right and provide yet more cover for increasingly frightening Tea Party jacknuts who have proven ad nauseum that they are further removed from reality than Palermo is from Pluto.

          And another thing. I bet NOBODY comes here to "form political opinions". They all come here to stay informed and vent a little. Period.
          Report Abuse
          • Author by n'est-ce pas (January 15, 2011 7:00 pm ET)
            7 3
            I come here to beat up wingnuts. But that's just a personality flaw I've come to accept as part of my boyish charm....
            Report Abuse
          • Author by mari2jj (January 16, 2011 4:21 am ET)
            2  
            And you make this omniscient statement just why? Maybe that is the way YOU come, but alas, I doubt even a small percentile comes to this site for the reason you describe and in the way you apparently do. Sounds like a first class job of projection you are posting there, buddy!
            Report Abuse
          • Author by ilikeike (January 16, 2011 2:36 pm ET)
            3  
            not lumping wesley in with them but the right wing has been doing this for years. making outrageous statements and lies, and then the mainstream media reports that the public can no longer trust either side.
            reminds me of the swift boat campaign. rather than do some research and say "hey this is all lies" the main stream media declared the election had turned negative and the voters were put off of both parties using attack ads. mind boggling
            Report Abuse
        • Author by Jeremy Danials (January 14, 2011 9:04 pm ET)
          11  
          Wow, a thoughtful post from a trollie! Careful, you're sounding civil, and Limbaugh will consider you an enemy!

          As you posted a thoughtful, civil post from a right-wing position (a freaking miracle in todays discourse), I will respond in kind whist parsing your statement to respond to its substance.

          For example, take mmfa...and this is not a slam on them. What do they really contribute to solutions for any of the problems confronting us today?


          I actually asked myself this when I first saw this site and was comparing it to the blog of the Heritage Foundation.

          But in reality, mostly what they have accomplished is providing paychecks for a large staff and accomplish little in the way of shaping public opinion.


          Here I disagree. Remember the days before Media Matters? The progression went as thus: Ultra-fundamentalist right-wing publications report lie or rhetoric, semi-respectable rightwing publications report second-hand "news," and criticize mainstream media for not reporting it, badgering real media to "legitimize" the "story." MMfA was established to counter this with factual reporting. Why else are Beck, Doocy, and the rest of Fox so angry with MMfA?

          There are fringe elements in society today...just like there has been since the Pilgrims arrived. The only thing that has changed is the availability of electronic megaphones to amplify those radical positions. And they have found a small part of America that believe like they do.


          To respond with history, the Pilgrims were the fringe. They felt persecuted because of their religious beliefs, so they fled...only to persecute others for their beliefs.

          Aaaanndd finally,

          Their attitudes develop through daily associations with parents, relatives, friends and peers...just like it has always been.


          The problem is their parents, relatives, friends, and peers are also influenced... by FNC and its ilk.

          Most people are good. You and I can agree on that, if nothing else. But to say that the Heritage Foundation and MMfA have contributed little to the discourse is inaccurate, because countering misinformation is essential to informing the public, as well as making them aware that there is disinformation that is being defended as factual.
          Report Abuse
        • Author by hypocritesRus (January 16, 2011 9:41 am ET)
            4
          wesley said: What do they really contribute to solutions for any of the problems confronting us today?

          How come no body is answering that question with honest answers?
          Report Abuse
    • Author by Jeremy Danials (January 14, 2011 6:41 pm ET)
      6  
      Simon, PLEEEEAAASSSEEEstart back up the Limbaugh Wire!
      Report Abuse
      • Author by DAWUSS (January 14, 2011 7:44 pm ET)
        5 2
        Seconded.
        Report Abuse
      • Author by dwbat (January 16, 2011 1:39 pm ET)
        1  
        That might be before my MMFA enlightening, or I was focused on Beck since that's who my parents worship. But, too much information has never been a bad thing for me, so I third that.
        Report Abuse
    • Author by oscar the grouch (January 14, 2011 8:05 pm ET)
      3 9
      As we have learned in the past week, all violent rhetoric comes frome the conservative side of the political aisle. I assume then as it is the mission of MMFA to report on all conservative misinformation and such, that in the future, words of violence that come from those many would consider to be on the other side of the aisle will be highlighted and condemned by MMFA also.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by steeve (January 14, 2011 8:12 pm ET)
        14  
        I understand the void you feel since there isn't a single reliable conservative source to provide that for you. Just a bunch of howling liars.
        Report Abuse
      • Author by anitamurie (January 14, 2011 8:58 pm ET)
        13  
        Why don't you tell us all about the "words of violence from those...on the other side of the aisle... Oscar the grouch? Even a Republican born again, Christan was quoted as blaming all the letters he received from conservatives for dropping his campaign for more civil discourse. He said he felt "embarrassed" by the kind of things they had written.
        Report Abuse
        • Author by dwbat (January 16, 2011 1:42 pm ET)
          2  
          ... queue crickets
          Report Abuse
        • Author by rumpleteasermom (January 16, 2011 1:48 pm ET)
          5  
          I wrote this as part of a conversation elsewhere, but it is appropriate here too. The left also used certain words and phrases that have caused trouble fort he right. The thing is -

          Context matters. Both sides use the phrase "Take out the opposition" But only one of the below examples is a problem in context:

          Saying "This is why a progressive revolution is needed. No one wants to take out Russell Pearce more than progressives and Latinos, and perhaps he wasn’t the top target for the state until now. " after a loonnggg and boring article about voting statistics has a completely different connotation than:

          " You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.
          I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out."

          And you know, she did actually sort of, kind of walk back the last line and explained that she didn't mean really kill him, but she defends the Second Amendment comments to this day and doesn't seem to understand that the reason she had to walk back the "take out" comment was because it followed the Second Amendment comment.

          No nutjob is going to read the long boring article about voting stats and then think the writer intended an actual assassination, but a nutjob listening to Sharon Angle could very easily think she actually meant assassination.
          Report Abuse
      • Author by ilikeike (January 16, 2011 2:39 pm ET)
        2  
        if anyone in the mainstream media who is a moderate or liberal were to use the type of rhetoric that beck or palin does then yeah mmfa would report it. now im sure you can find examples of some lunatic howling at the moon somewhere who has a liberal agenda but they will have to have some kind of following to expect mmfa to pick up on them
        Report Abuse
    • Author by anitamurie (January 14, 2011 8:33 pm ET)
      7  
      I think some of the establishment GOP might even welcome more civility in politics today: if they could. However I don't know where that would leave them politicely? After, two stinging defeats in 2006 and 2010 the GOP was left barely breathing. They would have been on life support by the last mid-terms if their fringe base hadn't breathed some life in them with over the top rhetoric and astroturf funded "tea parties". Remember, they started 2009 with the base insisting the party had not been "conservative enough", so they eventually complied. Now all they have is left is an economic policy of supply side economics and deregulation that has more than proven it is a failure and out dated social policies the country has rejected. If Republicans rejected their far right base, it would take decades for them to regain their status as one of the two leading parties; I'm afraid their party leaders realize this and feel they have no choice but to continue to allow the crazies to basically run the show.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by Maimon (January 15, 2011 1:38 am ET)
      12  
      Fear..Myths...and Illusion.

      That is the unholy trinity that the Lords of Illusion ( Fox/GOP/Talk-radio) bow to daily.

      Fear: you must always be afraid. "Death panels are coming for Granny"..." The Mosque at ground zero is a training camp for terrorists"..." China spends $100 billion on defence( we spend $800 billion)."..."President Obama is coming for your guns".

      Fear is to distract you from the fact they are misleading you. We spent $360/ per day on two wars, for 7 years. One war is make believe(Iraq) and the other is so complex and was ignored for so long, that achieving a victory will be very difficult.

      Fear is to distract you from the fact that we spend $700 to $800 billion a year on defence. We have created a military industrial welfare system.

      Fear is to distract you from the fact that US Chamber of Commerce helps to outsource jobs.

      Myth are to distract from specific realities. John Wayne and Ronald Reagan never served in the military. John Wayne actually actively avoided serving. Jimmy Carter who is called a wimp by many on the right was a Lieutenant in the Navy and helped develope the Nuclear submarine program. John Kerry served in vietnam and was wounded. Swift Boat lies were debunked.

      Myths are to distract you from the real issues. Republicans are fiscally responsible. Reagan, Bush Sr, and Bush Junior increased spending, increased the deficit and the national debt.

      Illusions are to rewrite history. Founding Fathers were all Christians( Beck), Nazis were leftwing( Jonah Goldberg), Bush inherited Clintons Debt( Hannity), 911 is Clinton's fault(Hannity), Canada fought in Vietnam ( Ann Coulter), Nixon never met Mao Tse Tung( O'Riley). The truth is the opposite of what was claimed.

      Do not be distracted, do not perpetuate the myths...Question the Illusions.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by cct41us520 (January 15, 2011 4:47 pm ET)
           
        I'm proud to live in a country where there is free speech. But, with that, I would like to hear Free Responsible Speech from the Government and the Media.
        Also with free speech, there will always be people who out and out lie, knowingly report false information...the list goes on.
        We all know that words were not responsible for the senseless tragedy in Tucson. It was a "Deranged" 22 year old who had no business owning a gun.
        From this, I ask respectfully for FREE RESPOSIBLE SPEECH from our government and media because I think it's the right thing to do.
        Report Abuse
      • Author by L Bishop (January 16, 2011 4:14 pm ET)
        1 11
        History is pretty clear on two of your statements that you are factually incorrect. I know you do no want to perpetuate myths so let's clarify the record with these facts:

        1. Most of the founding fathers of our Constitutional Republic were in fact, Christian.

        2. The Nazi party was a left wing socialist organization. Hitler self-aligned with, was widely reported in the media and widely recognized as a member of the left wing along the political continuum during his ascension to power. The Nazi party was openly opposed by the conservatives in Germany. 'Nazi' is a German acronym for National Socialist.
        Report Abuse
        • Author by steeve (January 17, 2011 12:57 am ET)
          5  
          Since every shred of fact is now exclusively on one side of the aisle, the political debates your father remembers no longer have any relevance. Thus there is no more changing of minds. There is only waiting for the unteachable to die off. Then we can return to deciding which of several nuanced options is best.

          "In response to the pleas for civility that arose in the aftermath of the shooting, Limbaugh went on a deliberate crusade to make AM radio as ugly as possible." -- did you happen to locate any fact in that paragraph? Any evidence?
          Report Abuse
          • Author by steeve (January 17, 2011 1:08 am ET)
            1  
            Whoops, that was for L Bishop below. Your post is wrong, but it would take me at least nine sentences to explain why.
            Report Abuse
            • Author by steeve (January 17, 2011 1:09 am ET)
              1  
              Wow, you're L Bishop too. I meant the 4:34 pm ET L Bishop. I gotta get to bed...
              Report Abuse
        • Author by Maimon (January 17, 2011 3:08 pm ET)
          4 1
          You are assuming that calling the founding fathers"christians" has the same meaning it had then as opposed to the today. So as I said Beck, has claimed that ALL the founding fathers were christians, which is not TRUE or FACTUAL. Also, the Founding Fathers and other key people in US history, were products of the enlightenment, not blind religious ideology.

          -Thomas Jefferson was Deist
          -Benjamin Franklin was at one time an atheist, then was a declared polytheist.
          -Haym Solomon, who few know or remember, was Jewish.

          I should also mention that some others refused communion and deeply questioned central tenants in Christianity e.g. the uniqueness of Jesus, the historical veracity of miracles and the Bible, and of Christiany's over all value to society.

          As to the Nazi party of world war two, they were infact coporatists, who suppressed and then destroyed the Socialist Party of Germany. I think if you read "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and other vetted works of history you might get better information.

          And guilt by association? Really? Does that make the US a Totalitarian Dictatorship because of our support for dictatorships? Was Nixon a Maoist because he met and associated with Mao, or Reagan a supporter of Apartheid, since he helped fund the South Africans?

          Yes Nazi means" nationalsozialitmu" or national socialism. Much like " The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea" means they are democratic...Sometimes names are taken to induce cooperation or project an image that isn't really there i.e. fiscally responsible republicans, historically not true; compassionate conservatives, yes two wars that were full of compassion, but the compassion was for the Military Industrial Welfare Ssytem.

          Nazism is a mix of capitalistic corporatism, ultra-nationalism, anti-unionism with some contorted ideas taken from the left.

          Nazis opposed anything they could link to jews: banking, socialism, communism, union movements, etc...

          I'm not sure what "FACTS" you claim to have, but my statement remains true and accurate:

          1-Not all Founding Fathers were christian and certainly not as present day christians believe. And the US is not a Christian state...not then..and not now.
          2-The Nazis were a rightwing group based on ultra-nationalism,corporatism, anti-unionism and anti-communism.

          I think you have bought into the "Illusions", but hey it's what makes this country so interesting.
          Report Abuse
          • Author by Stephen wv (January 17, 2011 5:10 pm ET)
            1  
            It is kind of simple
            Total government control is tyranny
            No government control is anarchy
            In the middle is the Constitution.
            Report Abuse
    • Author by Pittdoc (January 15, 2011 8:00 am ET)
         
      President Obama's call was for introspection, not for blame. His healing sentiment echoed President Lincoln's first inaugural address in which he called Americans to "the better angels of their nature".

      Plainly stated, your commentary leaves me disappointed and unimpressed. Here is the NY Times listing of positive commentary and praise from the Right and the Left: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/praise-for-obama-from-the-right-and-left/

      Really, was that the best you can do?
      Report Abuse
    • Author by HardnoseMP (January 15, 2011 8:13 am ET)
         
      I have to applaud the President on his speech in Tucson, thank god this guy didn't have a political agenda, We haven't learned a thing since Virginia Tech, this Sheriff and the campus police knew this guy and had lots of complaints on him, but did nothing. If the Sheriff had done his job and sent him to a hospital for a mental evaluation he would not of been able to buy a gun. We have got to figure out a way to report these crazy acts from mentally disturbed people who have had numerous contacts with law enforcement to the NICS background system to stop them from buying guns. This report could save lives in the future.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by Friend (January 15, 2011 11:06 pm ET)
         
      Right "self-Rightouse"Wing commentators never fail to amaze me.
      Currently they rush to defend themselves about the shootings."They" are not responsible, it was just an isolated incident, the work of a mad man who can't be tied to any group.Yes and no.
      It was the work of a mad man. But unless you can prove that he was deaf and blind and operated in a vacuum you can not say that the current climate of hate and gun talk did not affect him.
      Michelle Bachmann,"I want my constituents armed and dangerous Yes, Michelle,Minnesota's disgrace, armed, dangerous and ignorant.
      Sharon Angle on "Shariah" in the U.S. Where? When? How? Prove it or shut up with the Islamophobia.
      Shouts of Nazi,fascism,Hitler at Obama and others: fascism is a danger....FROM YOU.
      False religion and "Messiah" complex: "Take back America!"
      America has never been lost. An democratic election was held and YOU LOST. Get over it.
      I am disgusted and ashamed of the likes of Rush Radio Racist Ranter, and others. Time to stand up and be counted,and tell the ranters to forget it.
      America is strong because of diversity and we became multi-cultural ever since the first European set foot on what was Native American land. Time to work together and progress, not regress.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by fabucat58 (January 16, 2011 9:53 am ET)
      2  
      I'll tell you how we can rationally charge the right for bad-mouthing America. Guys like Glenn Beck and others keep on exaggerating the state of the US dollar and of the economy so that they can hawk their gold. The typical gold hawker states that "by next year, the US dollar will be the lowest valued currency in the World.

      Lower than Iraqui, Afghani, or Sudanese currency??? I think NOT! I think that's one of the most unpatriotic, un-American thing anyone can say! Oh yes, and in light of Krugman's pronouncement that the Euro is kaput, it's a joke.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by papajohn (January 16, 2011 12:48 pm ET)
        2  
        The mainstream media already has enough trouble comprehending "true stuff good, false stuff bad". Now it's forever beyond their reach. If total falsehoods are told politely, the media will be content.
        ===============================
        You are giving them too much deference by claiming that they "have enough trouble comprehending......".
        They are doing it intentionally. Let us not excuse their behavior by suggesting that they are dumb and confused.

        John
        Report Abuse
      • Author by Jose4 (January 16, 2011 3:02 pm ET)
          9
        Creating the Federal Reserve was the most unpatriotic, un-American thing anyone has done to our monetary system.

        People were trying to sue Beck for pushing gold when it was only $800/oz.

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        • Author by mjlilgui (January 17, 2011 12:20 am ET)
          5  
          Gold coins, not gold. They're pushing scam coins at an inflated price. Stop rewriting the argument to make those opposing Beck seem dishonest.
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    • Author by L Bishop (January 16, 2011 4:34 pm ET)
      1 4
      I was hoping to learn something from your article Simon. Something that could changes minds and not just reinforce the political ideology of MM visitors from the left, center or right. Your commentary appears to be pure opinion which is OK but missed a big opportunity. I see no real assertions backed by evidence and some of the links you provided that are supposed to serve as evidence supporting your position do no such thing. Just the opposite.

      FOR EXAMPLE:

      You write "The desperate, false attacks on Obama's speech from his determinedly partisan detractors were aggressively debunked by the mainstream press and even denounced by right-wing bloggers."

      You also hyperlink the word 'denounced' to a right wing blog called 'Hot Air' and the story titled 'No, Boehner didn’t “snub” memorial rally." but this blog did not reinforce or in any way support your assertion of false attacks that were denounced. Why include it as evidence unless you believe that none of your readers will bother to visit the link and look up your references. What happened? Why did you use this link as supporting evidence?

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      • Author by Andy Kreiss (January 17, 2011 12:03 pm ET)
        7 1
        RE: the Hot Air link,try reading past the headline. HINT: debunking the lies about the t-shirts and Giffords opening her eyes.

        When you get that cleared up, go ahead and read up on Nazi ideology, and the religious beliefs of the founders.

        For somebody claiming that he hopes to learn something new, you sure seem to be doing everything possible to avoid just that.
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