That’s the question posed this past week at PBS’ Bill Moyers Journal. The program is a hard hitting examination of the impact of radical right talk radio, books, and TV shows not just on the nature of political discourse but also their link to violent actions against elected officials and fellow citizens.
When Glenn Beck says: “I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it,” is it just harmless rhetoric or something more?
When Michael Reagan says that 9/11 deniers should be taken out and shot, is that harmless?
When Michael Savage refers to liberals as psychotic, as traitors, and as a virus on America, how does that shape audience perceptions and even actions against liberals?
What about when Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners to launch Operation Chaos against the Democrats with an explicit goal of generating violence at the Democratic Convention. As Limbaugh told his audience: “This is about chaos, this is why it is called Operation Chaos[…]the dream end, if people say what is your exit strategy. The dream end is this keeps up to the convention. And that we have a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots and all of that. That’s the objective here.”
What do readers think? Could radical right media actually incite violence against liberals and or various out groups in society?