Skip to comments.In Early Newspapers, Only 'Mr. Silky Milky' Would Be Impartial
Posted on 10/30/2006 8:22:09 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
During the presidential election campaign of 1864, Henry J. Raymond wore two hats: He was chairman of the Republican National Committee and he was editor of the New York Times.
Early American newspaper publishers scoffed at the idea that they should hide their political prejudices under a cloak of objectivity. "To profess impartiality here," wrote William Cobbett in his Federalist newspaper, Porcupine's Gazette, "would be as absurd as to profess it in a war between virtue and vice, good and evil, happiness and misery." The motto of the Gazette of the United States, which began publication in 1789, was "He that is not for us is against us."
And a New Jersey printer wrote in 1798, "The times demand decision; there is a right and a wrong, and the printer, who under the specious name of impartiality jumbles both truth and falsehood into the same paper, is either doubtful of his own judgment or is governed by ulterior motives."
If ulterior motives played a part, however, it was to encourage early newspaper publishers to become deeply entrenched in politics. Circulation and advertising revenue couldn't support a newspaper, but government jobs or printing contracts could. When the political candidates they supported were elected, loyal editors expected pork or patronage, and their journals became "virtual branches of the government," wrote Eric Burns, author of "Infamous Scribblers."
The news pages -- there was no such thing as an editorial -- were unapologetically partisan, disdaining what Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune called "gagged, mincing neutrality."
Indeed, editors who tried to remain relatively detached were mocked by their competitors. One newspaper, the National Intelligencer, whose editor, Samuel Smith, was deemed to be insufficiently combative, was dismissed as "Mr. Silky Milky Smith's National Smoothing Plane."
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
And you thought today's media bias was bad...
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The difference is that newspapers did not used to pretend to be anything other than partisan. They are of course today just as subjective as ever, but are not honest enough to admit it.
That's exactly what I was thinking. It's not that they're any less partisan. They just pretend to be ojective today.
John Adams quote from the David McCullough book of the same name.
"There must be, however more employment for the press in favor of the government than there has been, or the sour, angry,peevish,fretful,lying paragraphs which assail it on every side will make an impression on many weak and ignorant people"
DU apparently did exist in the late 1700s
Exactly so. They lie. I don't like liars. Everyone has an opinion, and if the media wants to come out say "We hate Bush" I'd be (somewhat) OK with that.
But they come out and say "Our top story tonight: The media is unbiased! In other news -- our moronic president lied to us once again about CIA torture camps in Europe! And now, Sports ..."
Moral of the article, "the more things change,the more they remain the same", except that in 1864 newspapers were being edited by Americans not the marxists doing the editing today !!!