Rush to judgment

Despite my recent difference of opinion with Spinsanity, I remain supportive of their work. And I think they got it exactly right on the Daschle/Limbaugh thing:

While Daschle may feel there is a correlation between criticism by talk radio hosts and the number of threats he receives, there is no evidence suggesting that the hosts are the cause of the threats. Moreover, it is unreasonable to suggest that talking heads are responsible for the actions of a deranged few without specific proof that they have actively incited their actions.

Yet Limbaugh, especially, is guilty of extremely vicious rhetoric. Consider just a few examples from his frequent diatribes against Daschle over the last two years. On Nov. 15, he asserted that Daschle’s criticism of the conduct of the war on terrorism amounted to “an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism,” called him “Hanoi Tom” and suggested that he is ” a disgrace to patriotism.” On other occasions, Limbaugh has suggested that “In essence, Daschle has chosen to align himself with the axis of evil” and has drawn an extended analogy between Daschle and Satan.

Pretty much what I’ve been thinking. You can’t hold Limbaugh responsible for the actions of his more insane listeners — unless you want to give up on the First Amendment entirely — but neither can you pretend that he’s just some sort of lovable harmless goofball. He spreads a lot of deliberate misinformation, and that’s what he needs to be held accountable for.