90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Study Finds Congress Spends 27% Of Its Time Taunting

In this 2006 photo, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid gives a speech on the Senate floor. (AP)

In this 2006 photo, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid gives a speech on the Senate floor. (AP)

It may not be “your momma,” but sometimes it’s close.

In the course of their study on information processing, Gary King and his staff reviewed 64,000 congressional press releases. He and his Harvard team discovered that congressmen and women spend more than a quarter of their time on partisan taunting.

Professor King speaks with us about the details behind this distressing statistic and what it means for the political culture of the United States.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Chris Cooper

    But isn’t that what our members of Congress have always done? Doesn’t this trend all the way back to members of the English Parliament?

  • Chris

    Perhaps I am skewed by my affiliation (democratic leaning) but I see it as republicans out of control, divisive and standing in the way and democrats are fighting back. In my mind I remember the democrats as overall being more civil.

    ~ Chris

    Manchester, NH

  • Rick

    Civility in political debate.

    Vigorous debate is one thing, but questioning someone’s moral character, patriotism etc is another. Both sides seems to forget that demonizing and characterizing the “opposition” only as a “democrat” or a republican” is forgetting the fact that the person being demonized was elected by and represents his district’s citizens. Congress has always had its rough and tumble but at the end of the day there was a certain amount of respect for the office and for other Congresspeople no matter their views. This respect is hard to find these days.

  • vanthwaite

    Parts of this article were impressive. First of all, the fact that more than a quarter of politicians’ remarks are attacks is enlightening. I also liked the description of the three ‘I’ statements and the need for more ‘we’ statements. However, I was disappointed in the light-heartedness of the article. First of all, taunting is playground talk … it means teasing or provoking. The article was referring to offensive bullying and libel. For example, the first example you gave was downright malicious, using terms — willful abuse, deceptive, malfeasant — that spoke to the immorality of the party. While I support the Democrats, I am sure they make equally abusive remarks; Nancy Pelosi’s bland and provable statements gave fodder to the right-wing accusation of NPR’s liberal stance.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 15 26 Comments

A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

An incident of child abuse by an NFL player has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

September 15 26 Comments

Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.

September 12 9 Comments

Senator: Arab Countries ‘Need To Step To The Plate’ In Fight Against ISIS

Mark Begich (D-AK) is one of the few members of Congress speaking out against a key part of President Obama's plan for fighting the Islamic State.

September 12 Comment

Ecuadorian Drilling Damage Inspires Documentary

An American and an Ecuadorian are inspired to help Ecuador heal from decades of drilling and oil spills.