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David Morris: How America lost control of its airwaves

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  • Today, stripped of all rules requiring decency and fairness, talk radio has become hate radio.
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  • Together with a similarly unrestrained Fox News, aided and amplified by the Internet, incivility and hatred has infected the general culture. Public threats of violence are becoming the norm.
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  • Fox News: The No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies
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David Morris, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

In the wake of the murders in Tucson, our leaders once again are calling for civility in public discourse.

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We forget that for almost 40 years, we didn't have to plead for civility. We demanded it.

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The story of how we did so, and why we stopped, illuminates the intersection of politics and culture.

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Related:Fox News: The No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies, Steve Rendall, FAIR/Truthout
A demented Fox News culture permits on-air personalities to fantasize about assassination and other forms of violence against those deemed enemies of the station, its personalities or their worldview.

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Fox News: The No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies

A demented Fox News culture permits on-air personalities to fantasize about assassination and other forms of violence against those deemed enemies of the station, its personalities or their worldview.

Steve Rendall, FAIR/Truthout

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Truthout Editor's Note: This is a re-post of a November 10, 2010 piece from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) which is particularly relevant to the conversation about the shooting spree in Arizona on Saturday (January 8).

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Bill O'Reilly's recent "joke" about decapitating Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank was only the latest example of a demented Fox News culture that permits on-air personalities to fantasize about assassination and other forms of violence against those deemed enemies of the station, its personalities or their worldview.

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During the cable channel's 2008 election coverage, in what she later called an attempt at humor, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta linked Osama bin Laden to Barack Obama as people who both should be assassinated: "And now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, uh Obama. Well, both, if we could."

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David Morris: How America lost control of its airwaves, David Morris, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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  • Today, stripped of all rules requiring decency and fairness, talk radio has become hate radio.
  • \r\n

  • Together with a similarly unrestrained Fox News, aided and amplified by the Internet, incivility and hatred has infected the general culture. Public threats of violence are becoming the norm.
  • \r\n

  • Fox News: The No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies
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William Rivers Pitt | The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right, William Rivers Pitt, Truthout
This is not the end of the story, but is just the beginning. The good people of the United States of America, the true patriots, have finally seen you with your media-painted masks ripped off. They have seen what comes to pass when hate, venom, ignorance and violence goes unchecked and unanswered. You have been exposed, and the fact that it took such an unimaginably horrific act for that exposure to take place only increases the fierceness with which you will be answered. You will be repudiated, not with violence, but with the scorn and rejection you so richly deserve. Spin it as you will, scramble all you like. You are found out, and you have nowhere to hide.

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Words Have Consequences

We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

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Gary Hart, Huffington Post

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Gradually, over time, political rhetoric used by politicians and the media has become more inflamatory. The degree to which violent words and phrases are considered commonplace is striking. Candidates are "targeted". An opponent is "in the crosshairs". Liberals have to be "eliminated". Opponents are "enemies". This kind of language eminates largely from those who claim to defend American democracy against those who would destroy it, who are evil, and who want to "take away our freedoms".

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Today we have seen the results of this rhetoric. Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage. We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

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Joe Klein: Ed Schultz 'Stupid'

Klein was speaking on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday (January 9), talking to host Howard Kurtz about the media climate in the wake of the Arizona shootings.

Huffington Post

Time columnist Joe Klein had some rough words for Ed Schultz, saying that the MSNBC host had been "stupid" when Klein was on his show, and that Schultz was an example of why journalists are held in such low regard by the public.

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Klein was speaking on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday, talking to host Howard Kurtz about the media climate in the wake of the Arizona shootings. Klein said that cable news plays a destructive role in the national debate. He began by singling out Fox News, where he said a lot of "crap" appears--particularly on Glenn Beck's show. He repeated comments he has made elsewhere that Beck traffics in "ridiculous conspiracy theories."

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The "Lock and Load" Rhetoric of American Politics Isn't Just a Metaphor, Marty Kaplan, Huffington Post

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I'm not saying that putting a bullseye on Arizona Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' congressional race - as Sarah Palin did - was an explicit or intentional invitation to violence. Nor am I saying that the "Get on Target for Victory" events held by the guy Giffords beat - "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly" - was the reason her assassin went after her. This tragedy is still unfolding, and the questions of motive and incitement will be argued about for a long time to come.

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Taking Media Mergers to the Next Level

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  • Comcast/NBC would be unprecedented powerhouse
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  • If the FCC allows the merger to take place, the company will control nearly a quarter of cable subscribers in the country and 12 percent of all television content
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  • Opponents of Comcast-NBC Merger Speak Out in Congress
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  • Too Big to Block? Why Obama Must Stop the Comcast-NBC Merger
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Krystle Manintveld, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

Over the last decade, dozens of media mergers and purchases have resulted in a media industry controlled by a handful of companies—and the cable giant Comcast wants to be one of them.

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After a failed attempt to purchase Disney in 2004 for $66 billion (Inter Press Service, 3/20/04), Comcast offered to take over NBC Universal for the bargain price of $30 billion—which would buy a 51 percent controlling interest from General Electric, with the expectation of acquiring the remaining stake over the next seven years (Globe and Mail, 12/3/09).

While Comcast has so far been mainly a cable and Internet provider, with limited involvement in programming, the purchase of NBC Universal would make it a major media conglomerate. In addition to the NBC broadcast TV network, Comcast would get MSNBC, CNBC, Universal Studios, 26 local television stations and several other small holdings. NBC also holds a 30 percent stake in the online TV website Hulu, a point of much discussion in the coverage (New York Times, 11/9/09)<http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/intense-review-is-expected-for-nb.... If the FCC allows the merger to take place, the company will control nearly a quarter of cable subscribers in the country and 12 percent of all television content (New York Observer, 2/9/10).

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Opponents of Comcast-NBC Merger Speak Out in Congress, Jenn Ettinger, Free Press
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) submitted a letter to the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday calling on the agency to deny approval for the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal based on a failure to meet public interest requirements, the likely harm to competition, and the anticipated rise in cable rates.

Too Big to Block? Why Obama Must Stop the Comcast-NBC Merger, Josh Silver, Huffington Post

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  • This train wreck of a deal will hurt all over
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  • Currently free online NBC content (will be) locked behind a pay wall
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  • Less opportunity for the distribution of independent media; even fewer choices and less programming diversity
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