Obama Wide of the Mark to Blame Fox, Blogs for Uncivil Discourse

COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama was in Iowa on a bus tour stop and chastised the modern media for creating political rancor and controversy. He harkened back to the good old days when everyone listened to Walter Cronkite.

Obama is not the first liberal to wax nostalgic for the storied past when three networks dispensed the news for a half hour every weeknight from a distinctively liberal, northeastern perspective. There was no diversity in the news, unlike now, when one can experience every point of view imaginable — some not imaginable until heard.

As one of the bloggers whom Obama accuses of stirring people up, I have to say that the president is wide of the mark. Political discourse was far more violent in the storied 1960s, when the news was short, liberal, and bland. Political discourse, at least in the inner cities and some college campuses, was accompanied by civil unrest and violence. Today, with people on Fox News and the blogs making people unhappy with their place, the most violent political discourse occurs when a tea party person yells at the president for his vice president calling him and his friends a terrorist.

Of course, presidents Johnson and Nixon, while they watched riots in places like Watts, Detroit, and Kent State on TV, rarely had to experience brick bats being thrown in person. So, they were somewhat insulated from the unhappiness of some of the citizens whom they governed, at least until election day rolled around. Cronkite was unable to save George McGovern from being crushed by President Nixon in 1972, for example.

The president is really harkening back to an era that has never been. People were just as annoyed at their government in 1968 as they are in 2011, despite the fact that everyone watched Cronkite. The difference is, from Obama’s perspective, that the wrong people are annoyed at him. He blames Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or yours truly for this fact.

Diversity of opinion in the media is a good thing. All points of view are exposed, argued about, and checked. This in turn strengthens democracy by making a more informed public. Unfortunately, from Obama’s perspective, that public has been informed of his mistakes. He would much rather have Cronkite back so the bad news can be ignored and the positive can be accentuated. At least until a Republican is elected, and therefore the reverse will be true.

Source: Obama blames blogs, Fox News for political vitriol, Charlie Spiering, Washington Examiner, August 16, 2011

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