Did William Randolph Hearst Really Manipulate News to Spin Up a War?

“You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war”. In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be[…]

The Founders and Cries of ‘Fake News’

George Washington tired of those he called “infamous scribblers”. By Harlow Giles Unger “American Nation Debauched by WASHINGTON!” screamed a newspaper headline before charging the Father of Our Country with “the foulest designs against the liberties of a people.”  President Donald Trump would call it “fake News” and George Washington most certainly would agree.  After[…]

VP Spiro Agnew’s War on the Press during the Nixon Administration

When Vice President Spiro Agnew gave a speech in 1969 bashing the press, he fired some of the first shots in a culture war that persists to this day. Introduction Americans witnessed an unprecedented event 50 years ago: live television coverage on all three national networks of a speech by the vice president of the[…]

I.F. “Izzy” Stone: The Lessons of a Courageous 20th-Century Journalist

Remembering what one of last century’s most courageous Jewish journalists taught us. By Peter Dreier In this era of Donald Trump—with its widespread corruption and abuse of power—the world of journalism could use the voice of I.F. Stone, one of America’s greatest muckraking reporters, who died 30 years ago today at 81 on June 18,[…]

The Unlikely Journalist Who Dethroned America’s Robber Barons

Thanks to Ida Tarbell, we’re not to afraid to expose the shenanigans of the super-rich. Over the last few years, the idea of “the one percent” has become a popular way to discuss the gap between the fantastically wealthy—the one percent of Americans who control more than 20 percent of the country’s wealth—and the rest[…]

Think The Press Is Partisan? It Was Much Worse for Our Founding Fathers

A scheming and salacious newspaper reporter targeted Hamilton and Jefferson – and nearly ruined them. It is a common complaint that the drive for traffic at news sites in the digital age has debased our political dialogue, turning a responsible press into a media scramble for salacious sound bites. But partisanship and scandal-mongering go way[…]

Marie Colvin: The Work of a Journalist Who Died for Truth

The Syrian army, honing in on her satellite phone, targeted an artillery strike on the building where she was reporting from. By James Thornton HarrisIndependent Historian 2018 was an annus horribilis for freedom of the press.  Reporters Without Borders announced that 63 professional journalists were killed, of whom 49 were specifically targeted for death by an army or[…]

Sitting on a Scoop: The Story behind the V-E Headlines of May 1945

As we commemorate Memorial Day, the drama behind the headlines announcing Germany’s surrender in World War II. There’s quite a story behind the story of the end of the fighting in World War II in Europe. As we observe another Memorial Day, it is worth remembering the events of that busy May of 1945, when[…]

What Would Thoreau Think of Our 24-Hour News Cycle?

He believed that faster news meant diminished quality. According to a recently released Pew Center survey, almost seven in ten Americans feel worn out by the amount of news that’s generated each day. Henry David Thoreau complained of much the same thing in Walden, his celebrated account of a two-year experiment in simple living that[…]