Juan Williams and NPR
Ethics Sage Press Release

Civility in Congress

I previously wrote about the lack of civility in society and provided the results of a recent poll by the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College and Zogby International that found the majority of Americans say they are “turned off” when politics become “rude and nasty,” and 95 percent say civility in politics is important for a healthy democracy. In a recent blog titled The Caucus in the NY Times, Jennifer Steinhauer wrote about over 100 former members of Congress who have asked all members of Congress "to reject excessive partisanship as they enter the home stretch of this highly contentious political season." You can read her blog by linking to: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/author/jennifer-steinhauer/

The ethical issue is why is civility in politics so important? Haven't we always had to deal with partisan bickering both in campaigns and in the Congress? The answer is yes but it has become much worse, I believe, because it is fueled by partisan, attack commentaries by radio and television talk show hosts who stoke the flames  of "I gotcha" journalism. Years ago there were plenty of role models in the broadcast industry including Edwin R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Howard K. Smith and, more recently, Tim Russert. Today, we watch cable television and wonder why can't some of the talk show hosts simply address the serious issues facing our society and explore creative solutions with guests rather than to select recurring guests who share the same point of view and seem to be interviewed because of that fact rather than to contribute toward a more civil debate about what ails the country.