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.

July 29 12 Comments

U.S. ‘Border Crisis’ In A Global Context

Bill Frelick of Human Rights Watch says what the U.S. is seeing is dwarfed by the massive flow of refugees into other countries, such as Italy.

July 29 4 Comments

Iraq War Vet Returns To A Broken Country

Roy Scranton says what he found in Baghdad "shows the evidence of the truth of what we'd actually done."

July 28 5 Comments

Rob Reiner Reflects On Making Movies From ‘And So It Goes’ To ‘Princess Bride’

The actor and director has been making people laugh for decades.

July 28 4 Comments

New HBO Documentary ‘Love Child’ Looks At Gaming Addiction

"Love Child" tells the story of a South Korean couple whose baby starved to death while they cared for a virtual child.