After the shooting in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, one particular soundbite garnered a lot of attention. It was from the Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, and it had less to do with the actual events of the day, than the nature of public discourse in the mainstream media leading up to the event.
"I think it's time as a country that we do a little soul searching," Dupnik said. "Because I think it's the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business, and some people in the TV business, and what we see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in."
And just like that, all over the airwaves, talking heads began pointing fingers.
It's one thing to hold shock jocks and cable pundits to task. It's another thing, however, to give a pass to the wild west of social media, where information, misinformation, and superheated rhetoric always run at full-tilt. Sheriff Dupnik is right. This is not the "nice United States of America that most of us grew up in." We're now living in the United States of Twitter, the Republic of Facebook. So who's going to do the soul searching in the online world. And how?
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This segment aired on January 11, 2011.