Phil Arena, never losing a chance to take a dig at Reiter and Stam (two scholars with whom he disagrees), mentions Jay Ulfelder's post on threat inflation and comments: "Clearly, Jay hasn't read Reiter and Stam on how democracy promotes a healthy marketplace of ideas."
Yes, the incentives of the press in a less-than-healthy marketplace of ideas can lead to distortion and exaggeration of threats, but I'm inclined to think that bureaucratic and economic interests, also mentioned by J. Ulfelder, play a larger role. Example: I learned from a recent Walter Pincus article in WaPo (here) that the U.S. navy has two aircraft carriers under construction (one about half finished) at a cost of roughly $12 billion [sic] apiece. The U.S. already has 11 aircraft carriers, in my view probably more than it needs, and to justify adding two more someone, somewhere -- and not only the press -- is going to have to do some pretty serious threat inflation. Maybe Phil could consider taking an occasional break from criticizing Reiter and Stam's enthusiasm about democracy and focus on the particular forces that drive bad, suboptimal policy in the particular democracy known as the United States. There are, after all, varieties of democracy, just as there varieties of capitalism. The problem isn't so much democracy per se as the particular form it is taking in the U.S. today.
Addendum: See here and here (and the comments attached to those posts).