The Corner

Let Me Be Equally Clear

The media coverage of the shooting in Tucson raises the question of why the media so badly misreported the objective facts of the event — so badly that the president himself had to sternly admonish the media that vitriolic political debate “did not” cause the shooting.

Let me be equally clear. I am not arguing that the shooting caused the media to be recklessly irresponsible and wrong in its coverage of the cause of the shooting. It did not. But, separate from the Tucson shooting incident, now is a time to pause and publicly discuss the degraded state of mainstream media reporting and its effect on the health of our democracy.

Because even though the Tucson shooting did not cause the media irresponsibility — this time — continued media misreporting and bias is now so ingrained that such dangerous behavior could be triggered by any number of future public events.

Now is the time for us all to pause, and consider how the working members of the media can live with their biased liberalism — yet not allow it to permeate their work and undercut the political dialogue and political process that is the foundation of our democracy.

Indeed, it may well be the case that the now institutional failure of the mainstream media to do its job with reasonable objectivity may itself be the cause of the incivility in political dialogue. Without an objective umpire in the political debate, the players are forced to shout louder and louder so that their interpretation of the state of play on the field can be heard by the fans. But political incivility is a topic for some future discussion. Now is the moment for the nation assembled to try to come to terms with the tragic failure of the media to report objectively about political incivility.

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