Is Tucson Shooting Talk Radio’s Fault?
January 10, 2011

NTS MediaOnline Today is always committed to bringing our readers an unbiased look at the news from the world of Talk media. But with the rise of the inevitable finger-pointing taking place in the wake of yesterday’s tragic shooting in Tucson, as someone who has covered the Talk radio business for most of the last 15 years I felt the need to break from our usual “just the facts” approach to offer my opinion. As always, your thoughts are welcome HERE.

“There is no better place to discuss and debate hot button issues than on Talk radio, and I suspect that is exactly where much of the conversation over who, or what, is to blame for the tragedy in Tucson will play out. Certainly the immediate focus seems to already be on conservative Talk radio and television hosts — a previous and frequent target of the administration. From the war of words between President Obama and Rush Limbaugh by name, to administration officials declaring that FOX News “is really not a news network,” the debate between Talk radio and television and its critics in the White House and on Capitol Hill has resulted in some pretty heated rhetoric from both sides.

So, is the level of rhetoric and the tone at Talk radio (and cable Talk TV) over the top, to the point of needing the government to step in and regulate what we hear? Is the level of rhetoric unprecedented in American political history? Should dissent be silenced through government regulation of programming? Who decides what is ‘responsible’ or ‘irresponsible’ speech? In short, is conservative Talk radio responsible for the actions of an obviously very troubled kid, who has been dubbed by media reports as both a crazed right and left winger?

In the words of former President Ronald Reagan: ‘We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.’

America is currently debating issues that evoke strong opinions and passions on both sides. Frankly, is there a stronger argument that can be made about the need for free, over-the-air Talk radio than that fact? Where better for Americans to debate the big issues of our lives and our country than on Talk radio? Through the simplest of technologies, Americans can connect with one another, coast-to-coast and border-to-border, to discuss and debate. Talk radio serves as an incredibly broad-based and easily accessible mass medium. It is the original national “chat room,” where any and all who wish to participate in the conversation can do so, freely and openly. All you need is a radio, a telephone and an opinion. Now, what could be simpler, or more American than that?”  — Al Peterson, Editor, NTS MediaOnline Today.