Whip Hoyer on CBS Discussing the Tragic Attack on Congresswomen Giffords

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I don't think there's any doubt but my colleagues are very concerned about the environment in which they are now operating. It's been a much angrier, confrontational environment over the last two or three years than we have experienced in the past. I think there is worry about that. I will tell you also that the staffers... we should not forget that a staff member was lost here. Interestingly enough or tragically enough, ironically enough, the community outreach person on Ms. Gifford’s' staff, Mr. Zimmerman, lost his life. Yes, Bob, I think members and staff are shaken by this event. I share Speaker Boehner’s view and the views that have been expressed by the two United States Senators. This is not simply an attack on Ms. Giffords. This is an attack on democracy itself, on the ability, as she said in that reading of the first amendment, to peaceably assembly, to come together to talk to one another. That's what democracy is all about—representatives listening to their constituents and trying to reflect their views.

That's of course what the sheriff said. I think the sheriff was right. One of the things that you and I have discussed, bob, when you and I grew up, we grew up listening to three major news outlets: NBC, ABC, and of course CBS. Most of the people like Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid, Huntley Brinkley and they saw their job as to inform us of the facts and we would make a conclusion. Far too many broadcasts now and so many outlets have the intent of inciting people to opposition, to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral. I think that is a context in which somebody who is mentally unbalanced can somehow feel justified in taking this kind of action. I think we need to all take cognizance of that and be aware that what we say can, in fact, have consequences.
I talked to Mark Kelly, Gabby's husband who is an astronaut. Very angry, very angry about the level of angry rhetoric that he believes incites people, not only that Loughner targeted Gabby in particular, but to target those in authority, whether they be judges, members of Congress, local officials, generically to make their anger pointedly heard. Of course this allows that. We're going to have to find out exactly what the motivation here was. But I think all of us as Chuck Schumer was saying, in politics and in the media, in public square fashion our rhetoric so that it does not incite but informs and yes can differ but can differ in a way that is civil and consistent with our democracy's efforts.