In the debate following the shooting last week of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in Tucson, Arizona, politicians and the media have suggested that harsh political discourse may have played a role in the tragedy, which left six people dead.
In Rhode Island, however, the state's new governor is taking the controversy a step further. Lincoln Chafee has banned all state employees under his control from appearing on talk radio during work hours, and on Thursday (January 13) he said advertisers should help neutralize divisive political discourse by pulling funding from stations that carry it. "Those that pay — the advertisers — should shut them down," Chafee, an independent, told reporters, according to The Providence Journal . "My view is that these people don't even believe what they are saying, but they are making money off it. They're selling this divisive and highly emotional [content] … because it sells. So the advertisers have to shut them down. That's my view."
Chafee's tough stance itself has drawn national attention and criticism. As the Journal noted in an earlier story, an article announcing the governor's order for state employees was among the most highly placed on The Drudge Report , an influential conservative news site, on Wednesday, and Chafee's critics have suggested that the governor is lashing out at talk radio to divert attention from Rhode Island's problems.
Chafee, however, says the exact opposite is true. "We just want to focus on the job at hand, getting the economy rolling again, " he said earlier this week, " and we can't be diverted with all the nonsense on talk radio."