I've been thinking that journalists should add a "civility" beat to their shrinking offerings.
At least they should give a little extra air or ink (literal and digital) to challenge politicians when they hit below the belt, especially if they do it themselves, in a public forum.
An example is Rep. Mike Coffman said about President Obama Feb. 15 on the Mike Rosen Show:
Apparently, for Coffman, the loving feelings of Valentine's Day had completely worn off, because he said:
If so we continue on that trajectory, [mandatory spending] will literally crowd out discretionary spending and crowd out defense. And if you read the Constitution, which I'm sure the president at some point in his life has [laughs], but he probably won't admit it, you know, certainly the one thing that's, spelled out in the Constitution that's the responsibility of Congress is to maintain the common defense.
Hear the segment: Mike Coffman on Mike Rosen Show Feb. 15, 2012
Of course, Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, so it's more than fair to say that Coffman's remark is utterly disrespectful.
You wouldn't expect Rosen to ask Coffman whether that's the kind of discourse he thinks the American people want.
You wouldn't expect Rosen to ask Coffman why he feels the need to insult Obama like this.
But, if Coffman throws around more insults, and a journalist hears him, I'm hoping we can get some answers to questions like those.
Coverage of political incivility, with the aim of making politicians explain why they do it, should be a priority of reporters.
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