On Political Discourse

The recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, brought to a head an important topic: political rhetoric. Not but minutes after the horrific shooting took place, people all over the internet, from Twitter and Facebook to personal blogs, began playing the blame game. Much of this blame was directed at primarily two people, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. While it has now come to light that the shooter was mentally deranged and likely did not pay attention to the things that either of these people said, the discussion of political rhetoric still stands.

I would like to move past this general term of political rhetoric and focus on the use of political rhetoric on television. I recently graduated from college, and my final paper involved research of Fox News and MSNBC. I looked at many aspects of the two to determine which provided more ??????hard news??????, or the news that wasn????????t sensational or for entertainment purposes, but that which provided up to date information on current events that involved issues such as the economy, war, etc. The findings of my research are irrelevant to the point I am trying to make here, but one aspect that truly made an impression on me was how little information was actually presented due to the format of the programming. The overwhelming majority of the discussions on these two cable outlets were back and forth shouting matches, which more often than not consisted of memorized talking points that made for good sound bites. After watching nearly 100 hours of this programming, I was grateful to go to the DVR and watch episodes of Charlie Rose.

The format presented on Charlie Rose????????s program allows the person to move away from talking points and have a discussion. This discussion almost prohibits sound bites. Now, Piers Morgan has replaced Larry King on CNN, and has a very similar format to Charlie Rose. The hour-long discussion allows a viewer to truly understand another person????????s point of view in its entirety, not from 15-second sound bites.

If we want to improve the political rhetoric, we must move past sound bites and into a discussion. While some on the right are offended by the accusations that their words may have caused this mad man to go on a shooting rampage, and which the have every right to be, it is important to realize that the discussion on political rhetoric is worth having. So, I urge you to take the time to watch one of these shows and try to understand the viewpoint of someone who you disagree with. It will be more productive, and hey, we might even start to like each other again.


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