Add NYT exec editor Bill Keller to this list of people who think Fox News is polarising the country.
This may not be a total surprise to those who followed the NYT coverage of the AZ shootings closely — they devoted a lot of inches to rhetoric.
At the National Press Club Monday night Keller refused to draw a direct line between the shootings and rhetoric, but he drew a very direct line between the rhetoric and Rupert Murdoch
I think the effect of Fox News on American public life has been to create a level of cynicism about the news in general.
…I make no connection between the guy who shot those people in Tucson and the national discourse. But it is true that the national discourse is more polarised and strident than it has been in the past, and to some extent, I would lay that at the feet of Rupert Murdoch.
It’s difficult to fault Keller’s point that cynicism towards the news has reached something of a new high, or to ignore the fact that this doesn’t seem to be a good thing for anyone so much as Murdoch, whose News Corp is benefiting from Fox News’ open political agenda.
Keller makes it clear that he is not linking the Tucson shootings to uncivil discourse. Nonetheless, since the shootings there has been a heightened level of attention directed toward polarising rhetoric in the media and in politics, and potential consequences that it might have.
This is a charged environment for Keller to be bringing up Murdoch’s role in doing the polarising, and might risk not only calling out such discourse, but adding to it as well.
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