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The White House And The Press

May 15, 2017

Great read.

Each “strong” President since that time has also been vigorously criticized and viciously maligned by the press. Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln were portrayed by contemporary newspapers as backwoods yokels, clever schemers, and evil tyrants. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson suffered widespread attacks both on their policies and on their characters. Franklin Roosevelt was subjected to an unparalleled ten-year campaign of abuse and vilification by a great majority of the nation’s newspapers and magazines. Harry Truman was held up to ridicule and contempt by the press through most of his time in the White House. John Kennedy felt that he was dealt with unfairly by the press—mainly by some of the leading metropolitan newspapers in the East and by the news magazines. And Lyndon Johnson believed that the entire press was so nostalgic for Kennedy and so dominated by snobbish Easterners that it was incapable of appreciating his own accomplishments, or even of treating him decently. All these Presidents resented the attacks on them, despised the press for willfully distorting the truth as they saw it, and felt that the press often had grievously harmful effects on the nation. Still, they knew that nothing could be done to prescribe bounds to the press, because its freedom was guaranteed by the Constitution in order to give the people some independent means of learning what their government was doing, and because it would be impossible to assert what was fair and what was unfair without asserting a dictatorial power over the press.

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