Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trump is not the first!

Donald Trump is selectively prohibiting reportedly unfriendly press from covering his campaign. It’s not new.

Mistrust between the press and authority has been around for a long time.

General William Tecumseh Sherman once said:

“I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast”.

The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton controlled their own newspaper. It was called the Gazette of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson, who was an anti-federalist, wanted a newspaper to express his views. Not only that, Jefferson knew whom he wanted for an editor. It was a guy named Philip Freneau, a writer known as the “poet of the revolution.”

There was one problem. Freneau did not want the job.

Jefferson persisted and when he offered Freneau a no-show government job, plus access to all foreign intelligence reports and a lucrative contract to print government documents, Freneau agreed to run Jefferson’s newspaper.

George Washington was president at the time and Jefferson was Secretary of State and through his newspaper he criticized and editorially jabbed at Washington.

Old George would bitterly complain to his cabinet about that “rascal Freneau.” But Jefferson insisted he had no recollection of being told that his clerk for foreign languages ran a newspaper in his spare time.

When Jefferson became President, he took control. He spoke only to his own editors. Opponents and other reporters knew only what they read in the Jefferson controlled newspaper.

It did not matter that Jefferson was the author of our Bill of Rights. Freedom of the Press seemed to be a child forgotten by a busy President.

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