Political incitement on the airwaves: Not a balanced equation

I didn’t blog today because I was busy writing a story about political incitement, the nation’s toxic political mood and the appalling shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Tucson on Saturday. (Yes, I’ve finally learned how to spell “Tucson.” Keep those cards and letters coming.)

And I was busy getting frustrated by all the people who were telling me that it’s important to note that it’s not just right wingers who are hurling rhetorical grenades.

Well, they’re right – but they’re also playing cute games with the facts

The fact is that in today’s America, with ratings and advertising-driven media, there is a huge ideological imbalance when it comes to talk show demagoguery. The right is in the drivers seat; the left, with a very few exceptions, is on the outside.

So balancing our stories and blogs to make it seem like the incitement we hear on a daily basis is coming equally from both ends of the political spectrum is misleading in a fundamental way – unless you’re one of those people who believes the New York Times is just one step to the right of the Daily Worker.

I dare you to cruise the AM airwaves on any given night and prove that I’m wrong.

I’m not saying the left is somehow pure; I fully believe that if they had equal access to the airwaves and an equally receptive audience, there would be plenty of dangerous ranters from that end of the spectrum. I know some of them personally.

But they don’t, and that’s a fact.

Political incitement, whatever its origin, is bad; delegitimizing and demonizing those who disagree with you hurts democracy no matter who’s doing it; creating an environment in which there can be no compromise because the other side represents evil, not because they’re wrong, can only create angry gridlock, making us that much less able to solve our vexing problems.

We need to call out those who are doing it. And right now, most of those with big national audiences are on the right side of the spectrum.

While we’re at it, I can’t tell you how tired I am of the argument that we shouldn’t be so concerned with political incitement in America because of all those radical Muslims here and abroad.

What do the two issues have to do with each other? Sorry, I don’t get it.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.