3 Responses

  1. John Swinton, a well known prominent journalist and a contributing writer for the New York Times, made an interesting statement at his private retirement party one night in 1890 where he was the guest of honor. Someone had asked him to make a toast to the Independent Press. Here is what he stated:

    “There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

    There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

    The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

    We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

    Of course, things change over time. Today’s journalists have options previous print purveyors did not enjoy. Present celebrity scribes who don’t choose the silver may instead have to accept some lead. Tis a sad commentary, but nonetheless true.

    Yet, some have taken a stand in opposition to unseen power despite the odds stacked against them and for that I am most humbly grateful.

    • I agree with that and I understand this has been the profession for a very long time and with few exceptions over the history of the last 100+ years, the vast majority of the “journalists” of that time were fully aware of what Swinton was talking about. But I have to ask this: do you think journalists today would understand that conflict or have they internalized the obligations of the career in such a way as to really believe that is the true purpose of their profession? Would they even be conflicted in the first place? Would they even have personal opinions about world events that differ from those they are spoon fed to report on? That’s the difference I see. I don’t think they have opinions of their own at all aside from their desire to see their careers advance on par with their peers (or faster than their peers) and frankly, I think they are chosen on that basis. And I think in a broader sense, they are almost the perfect unbiased journalists because they have no opinion of their own. Take for instance, if the masters of the universe decided tomorrow that Hillary could NOT be allowed to be president and The Donald was their man, these clowns would shift in a heartbeat. Everything they said they stood for yesterday would be gone. Yesterday’s news. In it’s place they would lionize Trump and demonize Hillary like their lives and careers depended on it, just as they are doing now. Like their current and future presidents, they have no moral center which makes them perfect journalists in one regard. Perfect salesmen in another. thank you for the quote. I had never seen that.

      • I would suggest that most journalists today, with few exceptions, do not recognize the distinction between whether, at some point in their careers, they have been sold the lies, the great con or rather, have they bought the lies, the great con?

        The better journalistic minds discuss generational ideas, stories for the ages while weaker domes retire to parlors for dangling conversations about celebrities who share in their pursuit of mammon.

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