At Saturday night’s worthless White House Correspondent’s Dinner, where the press patted itself of the back despite its massive failures, a historian attempted to take a swipe at President Donald J. Trump, only to fall flat on his face.
“Campaigns against the press do not get your face carved in Mount Rushmore because when you chip away at the free press you chip away at the heart of democracy,” said historian Ron Chernow.
But Chernow probably should have brushed up on his Mt. Rushmore history before his snarky quip. At least two of the presidents on the famous landmark publicly loathed the press. Another fought the equivalent of “fake news” during his day. The fourth was known as the father of media spin.
Thomas Jefferson bashed newspapers at every turn.
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle,” he once said.
“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers,” he said on another occasion.
These quotes are but two of many.
So too, did Abraham Lincoln hate the press. There have been books written on the subject.
“No president ever cracked down on the press more than Abraham Lincoln did,” said Harold Holzer, who wrote Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion.
George Washington was the victim of a vicious smear, during which the press used forged letters to malign him, and sought to paint him as a monarch. There was no worse slur at the time. He used the last day of his presidency to correct the media, and set the record straight.
Washington wrote of the falsified letters:
“They are said by the editor to have been found in a small portmanteau that I had left in the care of my mulatto servant named Billy, who, it is pretended, was taken prisoner at Fort Lee, in 1776. … At the time when these letters first appeared, it was notorious to the army immediately under my command, and particularly to the gentlemen attached to my person, that my Mulatto Man Billy had never been one moment in the power of the enemy. It is also a fact that no part of my baggage, or any of my attendants were captured during the whole course of the war.”
Finally, Theodore Roosevelt was known as the father of media “spin.”
“He used public opinion, the press, leaks to Congress, and Upton Sinclair to reform unconscionable industries, like the meatpackers,” said The Atlantic in 2016.
Surely, Trump’s face will not be carved into Mt. Rushmore. But even during a night of celebration, in which Trump left the press alone, instead hosting a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the media liars couldn’t help but cut corners and bend the truth in an effort to vilify the 45th president.
No wonder he calls them the Enemy of the People.
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