Tucson gave the Village a much-needed wake-up call, and their response puts media critics to shame:
CNN host John King took a moment on air Tuesday night to acknowledge that a guest had just used the term “in the cross hairs” during a discussion about the Chicago mayoral race. “We’re trying, we’re trying to get away from that language,” King told viewers.
Michael Scherer is also part of this grand reckoning:
“Ever more jarring violent metaphors long ago became devices for chasing clicks online, listeners on the radio or viewers on cable,” Scherer continued in an email. “It is a simple fact of online news physics: More people click on a post about Politician X ‘blasting’ Politician Y than a post about X ‘defining a policy disagreement’ with Y. We in the press, especially online and on cable, long ago turned these metaphors into clichés to trawl for audience, even when it meant losing sight of our first mission, which is to represent reality.”
We can all breathe a sigh of relief that the Villager’s false equivalences and he-said/he-said journalism will drop the incendiary metaphors “cross hairs” and “blasted”, which were certainly the only reason that Gabby Giffords faced death threats. And we can all look forward in anticipation for the holier-than-thou rhetorical policing that the Village will inflict on aberrant members and foul-mouthed, uncivilized bloggers.
Update: In fairness to Villagers, Michael Kinsley turns in a good column:
No one is suggesting that one of those voices in the assassin’s head was John Boehner’s cigarette growl or that Loughner had even heard of Sarah Palin when he started saying nutty, paranoid things. No one is suggesting that he got the idea that the number six is somehow indistinguishable from the number 18 from the 2008 Republican Party platform. The suggestion is that we live in a political atmosphere in which nutty views (President Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen.) and alarming rhetoric (“Second Amendment remedies” are the answer to disappointment at the ballot box.) are widespread and often go unrebutted. The suggestion, finally, is that the right is largely responsible for a political atmosphere in which extreme thoughts are more likely to take root and flower.
But all of this is now too uncivil to bring up. So wherever could Loughner have gotten his paranoid contempt for government? Who told him that the government was this hulking, all-powerful “other” determined to control and ruin his life? Official answer: He’s crazy! What more do you need to know?
Well, sure. Is it ever not crazy to buy a gun, take it to a Safeway and see how many people you can kill? It will be interesting to hear what they have to say on right-wing talk radio when Loughner’s lawyers plead insanity. The party line has always been that insanity was not a one-word explanation for anything. Now, apparently, it is.