Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Inaccuracies and Incivility
An Hour with Ed Shultz

Yesterday, December 6th, I tuned in to The Rachel Maddow Show. I was surprised to find that the calm, cool voice of Rachel Maddow had been replaced by something much more hyperbolic. She couldn't make it to work that day, so Ed Shultz filled in with a second hour of his show, The Ed Show.

I had stopped watching The Ed Show after he held a poll where he asked his viewers, “Are Republicans Heartless?” after Republicans in the Senate blocked unemployment benefits several months ago. Congressional Republicans shouldn't have blocked the extension of unemployment benefits during a time when unemployment is over 9%, but to call all Republicans heartless was too much for me. But I watched the show to see if his rhetoric had changed. It hadn't.

He began by saying that letting the bush tax cuts for the rich expire, “could be used to solve our deficit.” ("Should Dems unite over tax cuts?") However, letting the bush tax cuts expire for the top two percent would bring in just under 70 billion dollars a year (“Vets Target of Deficit Commision?”). Whereas the deficit, the amount of money per year that Congress spends but doesn't pay for in taxes, in 2010 is projected to be 1,400 billion dollars (“Montgomery.”) Letting the bush tax cuts expire on the wealthy would certainly help reduce the deficit, but that action alone could not solve our yearly deficits.

I have tried to find a way to balance the budget, and no one can do so without some difficult spending cuts and tax hikes. You should try the New York Times interactive web feature and try to balance the budget yourself. It doesn't contain all possible tax hikes or spending cuts, but it is greatly informative on how difficult it is to eliminate our yearly deficits.

One of Ed’s many guests on the issue of the president's new compromise with congressional republicans on the bush tax cuts was the recently defeated Alan Grayson, who is serving out the rest of his term before the end of the 111th Congress. To explain his opposition to letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire for income made over $250,000 Grayson said, “The top 1% of the US population owns over 50% of the wealth of the country” (“Should Dems unite over tax cuts?”). In fact, the top 1% owns 33.8% of our country’s wealth (“Crazy Graphs: Rich Vs Middle Class and Poor.”) In a time where millions of Americans lack health insurance and millions more must go into great debt simply to pay for college, I believe that is still too much. But it is never justified to falsify information to support your opinion. And I do believe that Alan Grayson knows that his statement is untrue; he is infamous for using a deceptively edited video-clip of a speech that was made by his opponent in a 2010 campaign ad, making it seem that his opponent was making a point that was the exact opposite of what he was actually saying ("Daily Show: Indecision 2010 - Taliban Dan & Boo-Gate ")

After multiple guests who agreed with Shultz on tax cuts, Ed had both a Democratic and Republican strategist on his show at the same time, to discuss the issue further (“Winners and losers in tax cut deal.”) The Republican strategist, Ron Christie, attempted to make a supply-side economics argument that raising taxes on the rich would discourage them from making money and result in lower returns for the government. Before he could make his case, however, both the democratic guest and Ed shouted over him to the point he couldn't be heard. Ultimately, I do not agree with Christie's argument (here's why), but I do believe he should have been able to make it.

This level of name-calling, distortion, and incivility is the norm on Ed's show. Ed and others who engage in similar practices could gain much in credibility and respect if they interacted with those they disagree with in a more cordial manner and showed a greater respect for factual accuracy.

Works Cited

"Crazy Graphs: Rich Vs Middle Class and Poor." The Young Turks. 18 June 2010. Radio.7 Dec 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= VnVJAkhGyjQ>.

"Daily Show: Indecision 2010 - Taliban Dan & Boo-Gate ." The Daily Show. Comedy Central : 29 Sept 2010. Television. 7 Dec 2010.<http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed- september-29- 2010/indecision-2010---taliban-dan---boo-gate>.

Montgomery, Lori. "Federal budget deficit to exceed $1.4 trillion in 2010 and 2011." Washington Post 24 July 2010, Print. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/23/AR2010072304101.html>

"Should Dems unite over tax cuts?." The Ed Shultz Show. MSNBC: 06 Sept 2010. Television. 7 Dec 2010. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/40541391#40541101>.

"Vet's Target of Deficit Commision?." The Dylan Ratigan Show. MSNBC: 02 Sept 2010. Television. 7 Dec 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj06nIHMF_g>.

"Winners and losers in tax cut deal." The Ed Shultz Show. MSNBC: 06 Sept 2010. Television.7 Dec 2010. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/40541391#40541391>.

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