The Republican Party owns hate speech in America the way Bill Gates owns Microsoft. But by the end of the day, what’s left of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords life will be transformed by media types into a call for all politicos and pundits of all stripes to tone down their political rhetoric.
Every media representative on the national scene, from George Stephanopoulos to Jake Tapper to Wolf Blitzer, will stare into the television cameras trained on them today and intone gravely some variation of “the disturbing level of hate speech and violent imagery that characterizes much of today’s political debates", as if there is no evidence that shows just how much the GOP relies on condoning the violent rhetoric and hate fueled vitriol its political base revels in to advance its political agenda.
None of these broadcast prima donnas are willing to trade in their high dollar jobs or their place in D.C. political society to tell the truth about how we got here in the first place. None of them are willing to do a week long investigative report about the modern day GOP and its mastery of the art of “dog whistle” politics. They are all going to continue to follow the foremost unwritten rule of the mainstream media – “thou shalt include false equivalencies when none exist.”
For an unvarnished look at how and why we got to this place, let’s take a look at some of the things Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik had to say at a press conference yesterday:
“And today, I hope that all Americans are as saddened and shocked as we are. And I hope that some of them or most of them are as angry as I am, and as a lot of us are, and I think it’s time as a country that we need to do a little soul searching, because I think it’s the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what we see on TV and how are youngsters are being raised. That this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in, and I think it’s time that we do the soul searching.”
“And again, I would just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
“But let me just say one thing, because people tend to poo poo this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik
The sheriff was referring to talk radio, and people like Michael Savage or Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, but what he left out were their enablers—the rest of the media, including the leading lights of the industry I listed above, who often amplify the sentiments of these political shock jocks by turning their incendiary commentary into an accepted part of the legitimate political conversation in this country.
In fact, most of the members of the cable news media and the political punditocracy, who are heavily invested in maintaining the status quo even when it means ignoring the obvious, will be actively trying to avoid calling a spade a spade for the next two weeks. Most of them will try to gloss over the hard truths in Sheriff Dupnik's observations, and revert to the inane and useless chatter that normally fills our airwaves. A month from now, when the tears have dried and the next political fight of the day raises its head, they will all be back to what they do best—showcasing the most vehement hate speech and vitriol of the day and calling it news.