Civil Disservice

  • Aired:  01/12/12
  •  | Views: 340,734

John Oliver interviews Froma Harrop, the president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, to find out how to restore civility to America's public discourse. (6:37)

>> Jon: THANK YOU.

JOURNALISTS, WE RELY ON THEM

TO EXPOSE CORRUPTION, AND

HOLD THE POWERFUL

ACCOUNTABLE, OH, NOT ANY

MORE?

OKAY.

WELL, AT LEAST THERE ARE

SOME JOURNALISTS STILL

TRYING TO ELEVATE THE

DISCOURSE IN OUR GREAT

COUNTRY.

JOHN OLIVER HAS MORE.

>> Reporter: THE TONE OF OUR

NATION'S DISCOURSE HAS NEVER

BEEN COARSER.

>> ISLAM IS A I WILL FROM

THE PIT OF HELL.

>> ATISTS ARE PARASITES.

>> THIS IS JUSTICE.

>> HEY, RUSH Y DON'T YOU

WRAP YOUR FAT ASS IN THE

FLAG-- .

>> Reporter: FORTUNATELY

THERE'S A NATIONAL

CONFERENCE OF EDITORIAL

WRITERS.

A CONSORTIUM OF JOURNALISTS

DEVOTED TO EL

FATE-- ELEVATING THE WAY WE

KMAUN KATE WITH A MUCH

NEEDED CIVILITY PROJECT.

IT'S PRESIDENT --

>> WE WANT TO HELP PEOPLE

MAKE BETTER ARGUMENTS.

WE WANT TO SUPPORT A HIGHER

QUALITY OF DISCOURSE.

>> RIGHT.

>> AND THERE ARE A LOT OF

PEOPLE WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE

IN THE CONVERSATION THAT

MAKE SENSE, THAT ARE CIVIL

AND IN WHICH THEY ARE NOT

GOING TO FEEL PERSONALLY

ATTACKED.

>> RIGHT.

PEOPLE REALLY NEED TO TONE

IT THE [BLEEP] DOWN.

(LAUGHTER)

>> WELL.

>> AND IT'S NOT JUST PEOPLE

SCREAM ON TV.

COLUMNISTS ARE SCREAMING IN

NEWSPAPERS IN EVERY CITY

ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

I WENT TO SPEAK TO A

SYNDICATED COLUMNIST WHO

LABELED THE TEA PARTY

TERRORISTS AND AL QAEDA

BOMBERS IN RESPONSE TO THEIR

ACTIONS DURING THE DEBT

CEILING DEBATE.

SORRY, THIS IS-- THERE MUST

BE IS SOME MISTAKE HERE.

I'M LOOKING FOR THE COLUMN

INIST THAT WROTE THAT THE

TEA PARTIES WERE ECONOMIC

TERRORISTS.

>> YOU'RE SPEAKING TO HER.

SHE'S RIGHT HERE.

>> WHAT?

>> I CALLED THEM TERRORISTS

BECAUSE THEY WERE INVOLVED

IN A HOSTAGE-TAKING

SITUATION.

>> ISN'T CALLING A GROUP OF

PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT

POLITICAL VIEWS TO YOU

ECONOMIC TERRORISTS A LITTLE

BIT UNCIVIL.

>> NOT IN MY OPINION.

>> RIGHT.

>> ANYONE CAN USE COLOURFUL

LANGUAGE BUT BE LOGICAL, AND

FACTUAL.

>> SO WHAT IS YOUR EVIDENCE

TO SUPPORT THEM BEING

TERRORISTS.

>> WELL, BECAUSE THEY

ACTUALLY GOT CLOSE TO

DRIVING OUR ECONOMY OVER A

CLIFF.

>> SO THEY WEREN'T LITERAL

TERRORISTS, THEY WERE MET

FOR KALTER RESTS.

>> NO, I DO USE TOUGH

METAPHORS BUT THAT

WASN'T-- I DIDN'T EVEN MEAN

THAT AS A METAPHOR.

>> HOW COULD THE PRESIDENT

OF A CIVILITY PROJECT ALSO

BE A COLUMN IN-- COLUMNIST

WHO CALLS THESE AMERICANS

TERRORISTS BECAUSE OF THEIR

ECONOMIC VIEWS.

SOMETHING DIDN'T ADD UP.

>> DO YOU HAVE A SISTER.

>> I DO.

>> DOES SHE LOOK EXACTLY

LIKE YOU AND IS ALSO

CALLED --

>> NO, AND NO.

>> RIGHT.

DOW WANT TO EXCUSE ME FOR A

SECOND.

>> GO AHEAD.

>> THERE HAD TO BE AN

EXPLANATION FOR THIS.

I WENT BACK TO THE HEAD OF

THE CIVILITY PROJECT.

>> HI, ME AGAIN.

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU.

WHEN EXACTLY WERE YOU

PRESIDENT OF THE CIVILITY

PROJECT?

>> I HAVE BEEN PRESIDENT OF

IT FOR ABOUT A YEAR NOW.

>> ABOUT A YEAR, THIS YEAR.

>> YES.

>> THAT'S GREAT, THANKS.

>> OKAY, BACK TO THE

FIREBRAND COLUMNIST.

>> HI, SORRY ABOUT THAT.

JUST HAD TO CHECK SOMETHING.

SO WHEN EXACTLY DID YOU

WRITE THE COLUMN.

>> OVER THE SUMMER.

>> OF THIS YEAR.

>> YES.

>> HOLD ON.

HI, I'M SO SORRY TO BOTHER

YOU.

I KNOW YOU'VE GOT LOTS TO

DO.

DO YOU HAVE A VACATION FROM

THE CIVILITY PROJECT IN THE

SUMMER AT ALL.

>> I DID TAKE IT ONE THIS

SUMMER.

>> THANKS, VERY MUCH.

>> OKAY.

SO THAT DOES CHECK OUT.

SO MAYBE YOU COULD EXPLAIN

THAT TO ME.

>> WELL, I AM AN EDITORIAL

WRITER.

I'M A COLUMNIST, I'M ALLOWED

TO USE COLOURFUL LANGUAGE.

WE ARE ENTERTAINERS AS WELL

AS INFORMERS.

>> RIGHT.

YOU'RE ALLOWED TO DO IT.

>> YES.

>> AND WHAT DOES THE TEA

PARTYIST SAY.

>> THE TEA PARTY OBJECTED TO

ME CALLING THEM TERRORISTS.

A LOT OF THEM DON'T

RECOGNIZE IRONY OR HUMOR.

>> THAT IS WHAT THEY DON'T,

THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND IT.

>> I FEEL A LOT OF PEOPLE

DON'T.

>> YEAH, THEY JUST DON'T GET

IRONY.

>> THEY DON'T GET IT, NO.

>> EVEN WHEN THERE IS ALMOST

A DIRXARY DEFINITION OF IT

RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> I REALLY ADMIRE HOW

UNDERSTANDING ARE YOU TO

PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIFFERENT

OPINIONS TO YOU SUCH AS

YOURSELF.

>> YEAH.

>> HOW THE [BLEEP] COULD I

GET THROUGH TO BOTH OF HER.

SO APPARENTLY THERE ARE A

LOT OF PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT

ARE JUST NAME CALLING FOR NO

REAL REASON.

HOW CAN I GET THEM TO TONE

DOWN THE LANGUAGE.

>> BY SAYING THAT SOME OF

THIS NAME CALLING IS NOT

MAKING THEM SOUND

INTELLIGENT.

>> JUST COME OUT AND SAY IT.

>> YEAH.

>> REALLY?

>> THAT WOULDN'T BE RUDE.

>> HOW ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO

DO IT?

>> I ACTUALLY KNOW SOMEONE

WHO COULD REALLY DO WITH

HEARING THAT.

DOW MIND, EXCUSE ME.

>> NO, GO AHEAD.

(LAUGHTER)

>> SOME OF THIS NAME CALLING

IS NOT MAKING YOU SOUND

INTELLIGENT.

>> YOU CAN SAY THAT, YES.

YOU WILL PROBABLY INSULT

THEM AND THEY WILL PROBABLY

FIGHT BACK BUT-- THAT IS THE

TERRITORY.

>> WHAT IF THEY DON'T FIGHT

BACK.

THEY JUST GET INTO THIS

WEIRD DISPLACEMENT.

>> YOU MEAN --

>> MEANING THAT THEY KIND OF

DON'T ENGAGE IN WHAT I HAVE

JUST SAID TO THEM, INSTEAD

THEY KEEP DEALING IN

HYPOTHETICALS, WHAT DO I DO

THEN?

>> WELL, YOU CHAIN THEM

NEWSPAPER A ROOM AND YOU

YELL AT THEM FOR AN HOUR.

>> RIGHT.

WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE ACCESS

TO A CHAIN?

>> WELL, LOCK THEM IN A CAR.

>> RIGHT, YEAH.

I MEAN COY RENT A CAR BUT IT

WILL TAKE HOURS.

>> THAT'S TRUE.

WELL, THERE MUST BE OTHER

PLACES YOU CAN DO IT IN, I

DON'T KNOW, AN ELEVATOR.

>> WELL, SHE WAS THE EXPERT.

IF THIS ISN'T WORK, NOTHING

WOULD.

>> OKAY.

HERE WE ARE.

LUDICROUSLY OVERBLOWN

COMMENTS JUST MAKE YOU LOOK

STUPID.

>> THAT'S MY POINT.

>> NO, REALLY?

>> REALLY.

>> AND WHAT IS EVEN THAT

DOESN'T GO IN.

>> THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN

DO ABOUT IT.

>> NOTHING AT ALL.

>> NOPE.

>> OKAY, RIGHT, I'M OUT.

I'M OUT.

I'M OUT.

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