Hostile 'devil' rhetoric used by Republicans is outpacing lawmakers who didn't support Trump election denying: study
Marjorie Taylor Greene / Gage Skidmore

Republicans in Congress who voted to object to counting the Electoral College votes that showed Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden are deploying inflammatory rhetoric far more than their GOP peers who accepted the outcome voters delivered.

That was one conclusion of a New York Times examination of political messages over the past decade.

"The analysis of tweets, Facebook ads, newsletters and congressional speeches — more than 3.7 million items in all — relied largely on natural language processing, a technique that uses software to extract information from large amounts of text," the newspaper reported. "The Times tallied words that were linked in academic research to divisive political content, as well as those identified by linguists and computer scientists to be used in polarizing ways — 'fascist' and 'socialist,' for example, 'far right' and 'far left.'”

This was not the first time the newspaper had conducted a major investigation of impact of Republican political rhetoric.

"A recent Times investigation revealed how those lawmakers helped engrave the myth of a stolen election in party orthodoxy. Now, a Times analysis shows that the language of the 139 objecting members is markedly more hostile than that of other Republicans and Democrats. In their telling, those who oppose them not only are wrong about certain policies but also hate their country," the newspaper reported. "The Times found that in the current Congress, representatives who fought certifying the election used polarizing language on Twitter about 55 percent more often than other Republicans, and nearly triple the rate of Democrats."

The newspaper said the combative language had spread far beyond "provocateurs" like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO)

"Among other things, the algorithmic techniques used by the Times compared statements with one another and with examples of known incendiary language," the newspaper reported. "Similar tools are used in spam filters and by companies tracking discussions about their products on social media. (One complexity is that this technique cannot always distinguish between incendiary rhetoric and factual descriptions of antidemocratic behavior.) Political scientists at New York University reviewed and corroborated the Times’s findings and said the results underscored a broad shift in Republican rhetoric."

Texas A&M University Prof. Jennifer Mercieca told the newspaper, "they are using what are called ‘devil terms’ — things that are so unquestionably bad that you can’t have a debate about them."

Mercieca expanded her thought on Twitter.

"I've been telling y'all about 'devil terms' for a while now," she wrote. "Things like calling people 'groomers' -- they are unquestionably bad terms, things that can't be debated, meant to stop conversation and prepare others for battle."

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