Friday, April 14, 2006

Has it always been thus?

Confederate Yankee has an interesting post on WaPo and yellow journalism as evidenced in a recent article the paper ran on bio trailers in Iraq:

Spin. Cut. Run.

To hear Editor & Publisher tell it, you would think that Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick was standing firmly behind his page A1 story from yesterday, where his opening paragraphs strongly asserted that the Bush Administration ignored the "unanimous findings" of a team of weapons experts to purposefully present the American people with false information.

The Post’s agenda-driven journalism was destroyed before the first copy of the print edition hit the street.

There is more ofcourse, but reading this and some of the comments to the post made me wonder if the yellow journalism is something that has always been a part of our political landscape.

The following was written by one James Callender in the Recorder on September 1, 1802:

It is well known that the man whom it delighteth the people to honor,keeps and for many eyars has kept, a concubine, one of his slaves. Her name is Sally....

By this wench Sally, our President has had several children, There is not an indiviudal in the neighborhood of Charlottsville who does not believe the story, and not a few who know it...The AFRICAN VENUS is said to officiate as housekeeper at Monticello.

{emphasis is the author's}
Callender was found dead in three feet of water not long after this story was written. He had been drinking and cause of death was not known. He had no shortage of enemies. In fact he had savaged John Adams as well. After being jailed under the Sedition Act Callender found himself in want of funds. Jefferson, who had used the man's services in his partisan attacks on Adams had instructed his secretary Meriwether Lewis to give Callender $50. The man wanted a job, not a hand out and so he turned his wrathful pen on Jefferson. Abigail Adams said it was as if the serpent Jefferson had cherished and warmed had turned on him.

I found this story in David McCullough's book on John Adams. It seems there has never been a shortage of less than honest journalists or partisan politicians who employ their services.


David Thomson said...

Few MSM journalists deliberate lie like James Callender. That’s not the problem. As matter of fact, I am convinced that most would easily pass a lie detector test. They are truly convinced of their alleged professionalism and ability to objectively report the news. In the back of their minds, however, anything which helps the leftist agenda is laudable. The Republicans are considered to be the enemy which must be brought down by “truth to power” journalism.

Knucklehead said...


Undoubtedly there are some "journalists" who are "truly convinced" that the blather they put out is "true". A related but somewhat different portion are convinced that the US is, indeed, the Great Satan and that any and all lies and misrepresentations are justified in the fight against the Great Satan.

I have become convinced (admittedly without a shred of evidence) that some portion of the cadre of yellow journalists are providing services for payment received. Someday somebody is going to have a good look at the cash flows of some of the worst of the yellow journalists and discover that large amounts of aggregate income isn't explainable by paychecks from their, ummm..., acredited employers.

Barry Dauphin said...

I watched a large portion of the evening news last night for the first time in a while (NBC). It was quite an educational expereince. It seems that the producers are trying to craft a theme throughout the whole show. The theme is that we should worry very much, not trust anyone in the Bush Administration and pray that someone that Brian Williams approves of lands in the White House. I overstate, but perhaps not by much.

The piece on the Generals vs. Rumsfeld was hilariously one-sided, although it is effective if a person only gets their news from headlines and the 22 minutes of the Brian Williams show. Of course, this simultaneously sows the seeds of misgiving about the MSM. I think that many producers and reporters are possessed of enough arrogance as to not simply not understand that while presenting agenda-driven stories pushes their agenda, it always undercuts their credibility. Journalism regularly goes through fits of "self-examination" in public. Usually this is an exercise in moral vanity instead of genuinely trying to understand why in opinion poll after opinion poll, the media rank so low in terms of trustworthiness or credibility.

David Thomson said...

“I have become convinced (admittedly without a shred of evidence) that some portion of the cadre of yellow journalists are providing services for payment received.”

Saddam Hussein was known to bribe journalists. In this country, the “bribery” is usually much more subtle. A member of the establishment like Evan Thomas somehow obtains a teaching position at Harvard. The leftist publishers also make sure the “objective” journalists receive substantial advances. The better jobs almost always go to those who adhere to the wishes of the left-wingers. It is no big deal to earn $80,000+ annually in this environment. That income may not allow one to move next door to Bill Gate’s home---but it is far above the national norm.

terrye said...


I don;t think it is just a Republican/Demcorat problem. I think that there is a certain amount of gossip mongering inherent in the business.

Knucklehead said...


If you peruse the State of the Media 2006 study - the third annual study commissioned by the media about the media - and the previous ones you'll find that the MSM's opinion of the American people has been sinking right along with American people's opinion of the MSM.

Not only has the MSM pretty openly declared war on the Bush administration (they repeatedly judge themselves as not "hard enough" on the administration) but also on the American public. We believe them to be idiots and the feeling is mutual.

OT, but poking around I find it amusing that in their own look at their own business they repeatedly make not of their mostly dismal economic performance in a "strong" or "relatively strong" economy. Anyone see much media coverage since Bush was elected about the "strong" or "relatively strong" economy? Listen to the MSM's coverage of the economy and one would believe that things haven't been so bad since '33. Read their analysis of their business and they're dismayed that they're doing so poorly in a good economy.

I don't believe they are stupid enough to believe the crap they publish and broadcast. They are just seditionists, plain and simple.

terrye said...


They are trouble makers. Provocateurs, or something like that.