It’s not exactly a secret that news publications have become increasingly partisan in their coverage in recent years – everyone knows the NY Times is liberal, Fox News, conservative. MSNBC won’t dare say a bad thing about the Obama administration (save Rachel Maddow, who I find has a refreshing distaste for all politicians and their antics) but the Washington Times or the New York Post would in a quick second. But when does this clear bias in the media, particularly 24 hour news networks and talk radio, become dangerous?
The New York Times’ Frank Rich reported on Saturday on the culture of “silent Obama hater enablers” in the light of the two recent domestic terror incidents. Both the gunman at the Holocaust Museum in DC and the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller are only mere examples of the increase in hate and prejudice on US soil.
It is particularly notable when Fox News’ own Shepherd Smith warns of a rise of “amped up” Americans, taking their guns out and gearing up to fight for their beliefs. Smith reported on air that the hundreds of emails he had been receiving from viewers had become “more frightening,” dating all the way back to election season. Ironic that Smith made these comments on the very same network where infamous host Bill O’Reilly, repeatedly called Tiller a “baby killer” (29 times to be exact) and likened his work to “Nazi stuff.” Though O’Reilly never called for his murder, some argue that simply by portraying him as a killer, he incited action among anti-abortionists and those who disagreed with Tiller’s work.
Hateful speech and outraged protests have accompanied President Obama all along the campaign trail and following his election. Conservative talk radio has been accused of feeding into conspiracy theories that Obama isn’t an American citizen or belongs to the Muslim faith – both claims disproven again and again throughout the campaign. Conservative activist Jon Voight, speaking at a GOP event in early June, declared Obama to be a “false prophet.”
Is it inherently dangerous to have news outlets take a position on politics? Maybe not. It is indicative of the bipolar nature of American politics today but there is danger in the severe nature of the polarity – particuarly when fed by those given a soapbox.
Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter