President to Touch on Tucson in State of the Union Address

Look for President Barack Obama to discuss the issue of rhetorical civility in the State of the Union speech Tuesday, Jan. 25.

According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Monday, the President will touch on some of the same themes as he did in his memorial service speech in Tucson following the shootings there, when he called for a new era of more civil debate. The issue of divisive political rhetoric both in the political arena and the media grew out of complaints from supporters of seriously injured Rep. Garbrielle Giffords about the rhetoric used by her opponents.

Led by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), some legislators are pushing their colleagues to sit together at the Jan. 25 speech rather than divided by the aisle. Customarily, the speech takes on the character or a pep rally, with one side clapping wildly and the other either politely or not at all, unless it is for shout-outs to the military or, in this case, the doctors and other heroes of the Tucson shootings.

"I think the President would say that anytime there's more collegiality, less acrimony and less partisanship either during the speech or during the debates and what have you on these issues, that that's a good thing for the process," said Gibbs, adding: "I think the progress that we make overall on that issue will be dependent upon not just the steps that are taken to change where people sit tomorrow, but the atmosphere and the collegiality around that debate moving forward."

Look for Daniel Hernandez, the Giffords intern credited with helping save her life, to be in attendance at the State of the Union speech and saluted by the President, along with the family of nine-year-old shooting victim Christina Taylor Green and one of the doctors from the Tucson hospital that treated Giffords and other victims.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.