Audio Essay: Limbaugh Controversy Another Example of Disrespect in American Culture

Friday, March 09, 2012

After Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke spoke on Capitol Hill about her university's coverage of contraception, radio host Rush Limbaugh criticized her on his show. Those comments quickly went viral, and over 40 of Limbaugh's advertisers have pulled their sponsorship of the radio show.

In this audio essay, Celeste Headlee comments on what she sees as trends on talk radio and political discourse as a whole. "Our civil discourse has turned ugly because, let's face it, on the whole, Americans reward incivility," she says.

Hosted by:

Celeste Headlee

Produced by:

Jay Cowit

Comments [9]


If a 30 year old male conservative activist was given a forum by a conservative Congressman to complain how his university needs to supply him and his male friends contraceptives free of charge, there would be no snide one-liners, chortles, derision and droll retorts from this program and more brutal remarks in the media ignored all together like the Occupy disgraces are ignored?
This selective outrageous outrage from the famously unbiased media is an insult to the intelligence of the audience that still takes such commentary seriously.

Shouldn't those who fancy themselves journalists take a listen to a certain comedian's not so civil commentary of Sarah Palin and her family and ask themselves why he was chosen to host the Congressional correspondents dinner in the first place?
Should they then ask themselves why they didn't register their shock....shock at the lack of civility then as comedians take a significant role in politics today?

This double standard media merry-go-round is getting boring and as well as obvious as we pretend it doesn't exist.

Mar. 11 2012 11:29 AM
Kim from Dallas, Texas

Will Limbaugh's show go away? Yes. How long do the extremists on either side think people will keep paying attention? MSM is killing itself by giving them air time.

Who wants to listen to the BS anymore? Oh sure, there's the over 70 set that doesn't realize the world has changed...but soon they'll all be dead. And then the rest of us will get on with doing the things that really need to be done - like coming together to repair our country and getting back to being the world's innovators.

It's so 2011 (or more like 1911). Let's get on with it people!

Mar. 10 2012 06:02 PM

Celeste Headlee still hasn't accepted my "Moderation in politics" challenge. To support moderate Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, over partisan extremist Elizabeth Warren, in the Bay State's U.S. Senate race.

Awright; I know that public radio hosts are ethically barred from "supporting" or campaigning for any political candidates. (Fill in ironic sarcasm here: ________.) All that Celeste has to do, is to describe Scott Brown, whose Senate record is objectively and inarguably just as "moderate" as is Olympia Snowe's over the same time period, in the same way and in the same terms as she has already done on The Takeaway for Sen. Snowe.

Mar. 09 2012 01:36 PM

I think liberals are just as awful as conservatives are when it comes to being jerks. Al Franken Bill Maher and sometimes John Stewart etc. do nothing to make liberals seem like nice friendly progressives. That being said, I think conservatives seem to have more money to bring more attention to their hate speech than liberals seem to. I hear conservative rhetoric more frequently and see conservative bumper stickers about hating Obama more than I hear liberals saying how great Obama is or how stupid conservatives are. Liberals focus more on policy, conservatives focus more on being in front of a camera and getting a new book out with their viewpoitns..

Mar. 09 2012 01:07 PM

I am glad that I was not sipping my coffee at the moment that Celeste used a soundbite from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as calling for more civility in our political discourse. It would have been the ruination of anything withing spitting distance.

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, talking about political civility, is like Tony Soprano talking about law enforcement.

"Politifact" might be my least favorite institution in today's mainstream media. But since public radio producers seem to like it, I'll use it here: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was a finalist for Politifact's "Lie of the Year" award last year, for her assertion that "Republicans... literally want to drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws..."

Personally, I'd start the condemnation of Wasserman-Schultz for her crime against the English language for yet another butchered misuse of the word "literally." But I quibble. There are only about three dozen different quotes that we might use to illustrate that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is one of the handful of the most hotheaded partisan bomb-throwers in Congress today.

Mar. 09 2012 12:33 PM

Thank you for highlighting one of the most important issues of our time - the dumbing down of American discourse. Please do a followup piece down the road!

Mar. 09 2012 12:10 PM
Garrett from Philadelphia

Barack Obama never uncivil? Give me a break. Calling your opponents "teabaggers" is not only uncivil, but incredibly childish and definitely not funny. Also, it doesn't matter if someone's comments are directly "uncivil" - you can be rude by IGNORING people (Obama ignored the testimony of Catholics), among other things.

Mar. 09 2012 11:55 AM
Mike Douglas from Brooklyn

Another exercise in false equivalency from the mainstream media. Yawn.

Americans reward incivility? Really? Barack Obama was elected president of this country, and I've never seen or heard him acting in an uncivil manner. If anything, he may be too civil, given the merciless personal attacks hurled at him from the right from day one of his presidency.

It's time for the media to be honest: 90% of the incivility in our political discourse comes from the right. Or have you forgotten Obama's birth-certificate "controversy," which right-wingers still aren't ready to give up on? Or the attacks on him as a Marxist, Muslim, Kenyan, anti-colonial, fascist, socialist dictator who wants to subject grandma to his sinister death panels? It's the right wing that rewards incivility, not the rest of us.

It's time for the mainstream media to be honest, and stop defending the hate-mongers on the right by claiming, "Well, everyone does it." No they don't. No. They. Don't.

Mar. 09 2012 09:51 AM
David Williams from WGBH

Dear Ms. Headlee,

(I'm reposting this here as well to the general mailbox)

Great piece you just did on the (un)civility of public discourse. It's so appalling on a daily basis. I appreciate you spending time talking about this, and the skilled way that you edited and presented it.

(WGBH, ~9:25AM)

with best regards,

David Williams

Mar. 09 2012 09:34 AM

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