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Arizona Killings Should be Wakeup Call for Broadcasters

Author calls for panel of experts to address broadcasters inciting violence

Contact: Paige Janco, Janco Communications, 404-909-1430; John Ruane, Ruane Communications, 815-931-1917

CHICAGO, Jan. 11, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Following Saturday's tragedy in Tucson, Arizona where six people were killed, including a nine year-old girl, Sarah Palin and her Tea Party, along with some talk show hosts, are being blamed for the horrific incident. Will America view this as a wakeup call or just another story in the news cycle?

On Sunday morning, highly respected ABC commentator George Will is ready to forget it saying, "Whenever these things happen, and that is a search of the social environment to find some prompting that caused this, to make it more soothing and understandable. The truth is there are 308 million people in this country and a few of them are unhinged and that may be the final explanation."

That may be the final explanation if you make your living in television news and represent conservatives in America. Obviously, there are many people in this country who are capable of these types of violent acts, but not everyone is as eager as Will to brush it off and move on.

"The facts about the killer are coming out now and revealing him to be one of the unhinged people George Will referred to," said John Ruane, longtime journalist, media relations expert and author of "The Wizards of Spin."  "The politicians have their own set of issues to sort out here, but the broadcasting community should take responsible steps to ensure they aren't playing a role in pushing these types of people over the edge. That's really the issue they have to face here."

In the introduction to "The Wizards of Spin," Ruane chronicles the change in the news media over the past 30 years, moving away from the "just-the-facts" reporting of the Walter Cronkite era to the sensationalistic commentary that dominates cable news over the past 10 years. There are so many choices for viewers and listeners now, and media outlets have to compete for ratings to survive, so it's easy to see why some talk show hosts have become more combative and sensationalistic.

"I have been on the book circuit talking about how some of the talk show hosts are inciting their listeners and viewers to the point where this country has become very angry and divided along social and political lines," Ruane said.  "It's obvious some broadcasters purposely incite their listeners along those lines of division, growing the gap between a respectful debate and violent argument, and that can't be dismissed here. Something has to be done to demand responsibility on the part of all broadcasters. There are very smart professionals in this country who I believe can be assembled on an independent panel to address this issue."