Monday, January 26, 2009

97 Years of Media Corruption

"...No longer are the editorial columns of newspapers a potent force in educating public opinion. The newspapers, of course, are still patronized for news. But even as to news, the public is fast coming to understand that wherever news items bear in any way upon the control of Government by business, the news is colored; so confidence in the newspaper as a newspaper is being undermined.

"Cultured and able men are still to be found upon the editorial staffs of all great dailies, but the public understands them to be hired men who no longer express honest judgments and since conviction, who write what they are told to write, and whose judgments are salaried.

"To the subserviency of the press to special interests in no small degree is due the power and influence and prosperity of the weekly and monthly magazines. A decade agao young men trained in journalism came to see this control of the newspapers of the country. They saw this unoccupied field. And they went out and built up great periodicals and magazines. They were free."

---Senator Robert Marion La Follette at the meeting of the Periodical Publishers' Association on February 3, 1912. Quoted in the New York Times, Feb. 4, 1912. La Follete suffered a physical collapse during this speech. The speech and his breakdown were grounds for his withdrawal from the Republican Presidential race in 1912. La Follette left the race to Taft and Roosevelt, who split the Republican vote (Roosevelt via the Progressive Party), enabling the election of Woodrow Wilson, who pushed through establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913, the following year. Althoug La Follette is remembered as a Populist and "Progressive" he opposed the pro-big business regulations that Roosevelt advocated, in favor of a small business, competitive economy.

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