Monday, February 20, 2017

‘Polluted Vehicles’ to ‘Fake News’

The WORDmeister’s Note: It is difficult for some to celebrate Presidents’ Day today, given our current occupant. It is instructive to recall that many — if not most — U.S. chief executives had their problems with the press, starting with George Washington. No one, however, has treated the press, either as individuals or as a small-d democratic institution like President Trump has. This is longer than the usual WORD. But what the heck — it’s a federal holiday. Kick back.

For Presidents’ Day 2017: Reflecting on Presidents and the Press

“Thomas Jefferson railed against newspapers as ‘polluted vehicles.’ . . . Richard Nixon tangled with reporters in the toxic atmosphere of Watergate . . . Bill Clinton publicly condemned ‘purveyors of hatred and division’ on the public airwaves.” . . . 

“There has never been a kind of holistic jihad against the news media like Trump is executing,” said Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley. “Trump is determined to beat and bloody the press whenever he finds himself in a hole, and that’s unique.” . . .

“‘The press is your enemy,‘ [Nixon told aides]. ‘Enemies. Understand that? ... Because they’re trying to stick the knife right in our groin.’” . . . 

“Jefferson wrote to a newspaper editor in 1807: ‘Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.’” . . .

“Brinkley said Trump’s tactics reflect a broad cultural shift away from news to entertainment, as the former reality TV star tries to keep his supporters engaged. ‘He’s trying to show that he’s King Kong and the press are little gnats,’ says Brinkley. ‘That has box office appeal to a certain segment of the population.’”

Nancy Benac, reporter, “Remember Nixon? There's history behind Trump's press attacks,” Associated Press, Feb. 17, 2017
Then, on Friday, Trump tweeted this: 


John McCain (who was almost a president) disagrees: “If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free — and many times adversarial — press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time — that’s how dictators get started.”

—Chuck Todd, Phil Helsel and Matt Rivera, “McCain Warns Suppressing Press ‘Is How Dictators Get Started,’” Meet the Press, Feb. 19, 2017

Editorial Comment: Heavy sigh.

PeezPix by Ted Pease


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“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

1 comment:

  1. Doug Crews comments:

    Subject: Re: [tedsword] Today’s WORD: ‘Polluted Vehicles’ to ‘Fake News’
    Date: February 20, 2017 at 8:12:45 AM PST

    Hello, Ted,

    It's so very sad that such a large segment of our U.S. population believes President Trump is right on target in taking on the press.

    Many members of the public don't know the difference between a news story and an opinion/editorial, so they think the press is slanted (and I say some editors and reporters are slanted in their "news" coverage, so why shouldn't the public agree with the President's position?).

    I agree with Senator McCain that a free press is needed to maintain the checks and balances of our nation's government. However, the up-and-coming generations of young people (I'm saying the under 35-year-olds) don't even know that McCain is a Senator, don't read the newspaper much less watch Meet The Press on Sunday morning, think President Trump is a reality tee-vee rock star as do his followers, and what news they do read is blips-and-blurbs off their "smart phones."

    Bottom line ..... they are missing so much information important to them that eventually will affect their lives.

    Sorry, but they don't have a clue, and it's unfortunate for my family, and especially, for my grandkids and the world they'll live in decades from now.

    We have a society that is uninformed about what really matters.

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make 'em read the newspaper.

    Doug Crews