Have you ever really wondered to whom the "Mainstream Media" that is supposed to represent an American "Free Press" belongs and who controls what is read, seen, or heard via its distribution channels? To begin to answer that question, I'm going to give you a quote from an industry insider ... from way back .... specifically all the way back to 1883. The quote paints a picture of a sad and frightening reality, that reality being the true extent to which the American citizenry's perception of what is real and true is managed by the Mainstream Media, or, more precisely, by those who own and control the media channels. It's a reality that every person should think about when consuming the "managed news" with which the American public is constantly bombarded.
John Swinton, one-time editor of the New York Times, speaking at a banquet being held in his honor, made the following statement in response to a toast made to America's independent press: "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 opinion, 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. (A 2015 Aside: Sorry John ... I cringe at dangling prepositions ... even in the spoken word.) 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 journalist(s) is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to villify, 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 vassels 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."
There have been attempts across the many intervening decades to deny, debunk, and twist the facts relative to the occurence. The facts are these: John Swinton was a Scottish-American journalist who had arrived in this country at a young age as a result of his father having emigrated here. He would be introduced to the field of newspaper publishing and journalism at the early age of 13. His rise to journalistic prominence would begin with his early support, underground at first, of the abolition movement. He would ultimately arrive at the New York Times and stay there a decade (including the entire duration of the Civil War) as the paper's chief editorial writer. His brother, Raymond, who was in managment at the paper, probably helped him obtain the position. He did a five-year stint as a free lance journalist with the New York Tribune. From there he went on to the first of two "tours of duty" as an editorial writer with the New York Sun. He left the Sun in 1883 to start his own paper. It was as he was being feted for this new venture that he made the infamous statement. Swinton was heavily involved in the trade union movement. Today (and then) his politics, which were espoused in his paper, would be considered progressive and radical. His weekly paper, John Swinton's Paper, never did become profitable. His favorite editorial targets were the robber barons of the day. By 1892, John Swinton would return to the Sun as one of its chief editorial writers. It was there that he would finish his long career.
Whatever the man's politics, Swinton certainly cast a light on the realities of the manner in which the Media is owned by the financial elite and the fact that the truth of the matter, any matter, is unlikely to be found on the written pages or lips of any journalist who earns his daily bread within the confines of America's "independent press."
Just some food for thought in these days of ongoing Constitutional crisis.
We'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject.
I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin's "Apology for Printers" published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, June 10, 1731. Franklin understood well, the power of the Press and printed word. He was also well aware of the consequences of printing too much or too little information, even way back when. Point number eight (from his famous Editorial) states, "That if all Printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it wouldn't offend nobody, there would be very little printed." Nuf said?
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