03/04/2024 lewrockwell.com  7 min 🇬🇧 #246068

The 'Press' Is a Machine

By  Tim Hartnett

April 3, 2024

The third president didn't wait in the ground nearly two-hundred years to become controversial. A pre-woke corps of news writers were out to get Thomas Jefferson in print while still alive and kicking. When he died July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, media scuttlebutt included a theory the demise was timed with an intentional laudanum overdose. Federalist broadsheets were loaded with snide, spurious cracks about the first president of the 19th century. They explain why he said: "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."

Once quietly entombed a few years the mud barrage stopped flying. Generations preceding ours were inclined to sanctify words of the man. The back-biting, spite-filled rage of political rhetoric during the Adams-Jefferson era faded from popular memory. John Adams was so fed up with the Anti-Federalist press he tried to outlaw it with the Sedition Act. His primary target was Benjamin Franklin Bache, publisher of the American Aurora and Ben Franklin's favorite grandson. Bache succumbed to yellow fever before trial.

Adams successor was no keener on opposition ink but stuck to free speech guns. The sedition act was quickly repealed after the 1801 inauguration. Jefferson found the power to dummy up enemies worse than any calumny they spread. It may be his greatest historic legacy.

A guy who claimed, "I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it," was also known for, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." Political animals have never been known to take it better than they dish it out. Jefferson, whatever his sins, is still worth heeding.

The unkind printed word cut just as deeply into the hide of C-in-C III as it did John Adams or any commie commissar. The Bolsheviks never hesitated to cut back, using objects with edges a lot sharper than words. Would you call it progressive "progress" and enlightenment when, 94 years later, Lenin gave us:

"Why should a Government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be criticized? It would not allow opposition by lethal weapons. Ideas are much more fatal things than guns. And as to the freedom of the Press, why should any man be allowed to buy a printing press and disseminate pernicious opinions calculated to embarrass the Government?"

How many degrees of difference separate Lenin's view from the present hue and cry to "fix" the internet? We don't have round-the-clock firing squads like the ones operating in Lubayanka's basement under Stalin. After the wrath they displayed at one House "Weaponization of Government" hearing, it's less than certain if Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D. Florida) and Dan Goldman (D. New York) would oppose the idea. Soviet mass murderers were fueled with unlimited vodka rations. Eighty-six proof therapy may explain what's making free-speech-aphobia so lividly rampant on Capitol Hill too.

The congresswoman from Florida finds reader demand for copy proof of its corrupt toxicity. This is what she said to Matt Taibbi over his coverage of the Twitter files:

Before the release of emails, of the emails in August of last year, you had 661,000 Twitter followers. After the Twitter Files, your followers doubled. And now it's three times what it was last August. I imagine your Substack readership, which is a subscription, increased significantly because of the work that you did for Elon Musk.

Now, I'm not asking you to put a dollar figure on it, but it's quite obvious that you've profited from the Twitter Files. You hit the jackpot on that Vegas slot machine to which you referred. That's true, isn't it?

Applying this kind of reasoning, losing followers and subscribers evinces a source's fitness for publication. If public interest in a story is evidence of its destructiveness, force-feeding unwanted content on consumers must be her idea of responsible journalism. Much of major media maintains a headstrong aversion to covering subjects readers find interesting. This explains why fat cat conclaves, designed to impose secretive agendas on citizens without their input, flew under the radar for so long. Then there is the ridiculous coverage given to Jussie Smollett's victim fantasy. Front paging Nick Sandman and Nathan Philips staring at each other may end up being the most bizarre "holy cow" news industry event of the 21st century.

"Cow" was not the word  executive editor Ben Bradlee followed "holy" with describing the reaction he wanted reading Washington Post copy. Browbeating staff with that demand worked. Janet Cooke gave readers a story they, and the Pulitzer Prize Committee, lapped up.  The Jimmy's World Series flew off stands. It told subscribers an 8-year-old junkie was peddling dope to classmates. In spite of exhaustive efforts to verify the story coming up short, and the DC government rifling its elementary schools for a culprit who didn't exist, Cooke only got caught because her resume was fudged.

In the meantime, Silicon Valley stoops to censoring factual comments on newsfeeds vaguely alluding to "community standards" 24/7. Citing accurate demographic stats on crime is serially disallowed. One article described the PSTD a Muslim suffered seeing swastika graffiti. Posting links documenting the Nazi relationship to Islam were strictly verboten. Another piece was about an academic study indicating biological men outperformed women in nearly all sports. This response was stricken down:

Gee, how much did this study by "experts" cost? Did taxpayers foot the bill? Another example of parasites in the economy. 100 years of athletic stats provide a ten thousand time more comprehensive "study." Are the suits at Microsoft really this deficient in common sense? There isn't a single Walmart employee that isn't worth more to the economy than the ones who sucked resources doing this exercise in redundancy.

The idea that wannabe censors are about defending truth is provably untrue. The goal is always, whether in The People's Republic of China or the US, control of what is circulated under an ideological rubric. The US State Department uses  taxpayer funds for just such a purpose. A litany of all the fake victimhood and contorted - or even fabricated - details put before the public as professional grade journalism over recent years is a book length task.

There are blots on the reputations of both Jefferson and Lenin. That only amps up the absolute necessity of having ways to call out authority. Can anyone be trusted who says individuals must be granted the authority to have an audience doing it, by authorities? It is an official line held by The Atlantic Council, The DHS, high-brow pedagogy, thousands of op-eds, Silicon Valley, President 46, The World Economic Forum, the vast left-wing smugocracy and others. They literally tell the masses to "trust us" while scheming for laws to block their words from an electronic page.

Gloom and doom is practically inevitable anywhere that pulpit rights are crushed or even stepped on. Compare the US to the USSR. America is widely known for racial conflicts. Many of them, over a century old, continue to be brought up today. You can compile the carnage from 1865 until last week. Grisly and horrid as much of it was, in totality, the bottom line sum comes to a fraction of a single percent of the massacre amassed by 20th century Russia. No trick of number crunching can drive the American death toll to the left of that decimal point. If the figure were placed at 50,000, easily far above actual stats, it's still less than one percent of Soviet bloodletting in a shorter time span.

Moving the focus geographically and chronologically around doesn't turn up exceptions. Nazi Germany, the People's Republic of China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and other places where truth was rationed out, racked up corpses at mass production rates. And, keep in mind, most of the American bloodshed wasn't even on government hands.

In the wake of 20th century statist inflictions, the lapidary status of the first amendment is unimpeachable. Anyone with the paltriest claim to authority invites justifiably hostile scrutiny hoping to improve on those 45 words. Where the future of the human condition is concerned, no other matter comes close as a rational media priority. All of history's worst mass murderers started their oppression trouncing on speech. The aristocratic armies mustering to silence serfs pretend to be philanthropies. They would take on the 21st century's communication revolution the way Luddites smashed looms.

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