The benefit of forgetting to post before class this morning (whoops!) was that I got to listen to what everybody else had to say in class today. Many people, including myself, engaged in conversation about the significance and relevance of media today as well as media’s level of scrutiny and influence over politics.
During and after class I got to thinking about ‘media’ in Abraham Lincoln’s time and how much coverage of the President existed and thus how accessible information was to the public. I begin thinking about how today some politicians have symbiotic relationships (President Obama and MSNBC) and non-symbiotic relationships (President Obama and Fox News). I wondered if this was true in honest Abe’s time. After perusing the internet for a bit, I came across an interesting article titled, “Abraham Lincoln as Media Manipulator-in-Chief: The 150 Year History of Corrupt Press”
Here is an excerpt:
When I try to explain some of the historical precedent for the problems in today’s online media system, people often think I am referencing the era of Yellow Journalism. At the turn of the 20th century, journalism was also quite awful so I usually just let this inference be.
But what I really want to tell them is that it goes back much further than that. In fact, if you really want to understand the media, its toxic incentives and potential consequences, forget the Spanish American War (which some argue was driven by newspaper competition between Hearst and Pulitzer) and study the Civil War. Because despite what you may have learned in school, the Civil War is a fascinating study of the poisonous effects of the press on politics, on life and on the people.
…If you were to ask the average person what they know about Lincoln and the media, they’d probably say something about him throwing journalists in jail or suspending certain Constitutional rights. That is true and it is interesting.
But what the record actually shows is that Lincoln was an astute and deft manipulator of the media—a manipulator-in-chief has he had been called. He needed to be. And frankly, the media in that day deserved it.
Read more at http://observer.com/2014/11/abraham-lincoln-as-media-manipulator-in-chief-the-150-year-history-of-corrupt-press/#ixzz3SEWFlyDY
Follow us: @newyorkobserver on Twitter | newyorkobserver on Facebook