Political Hatred of the Press is Nothing New

January 27, 2019

“To give it freedom from criticism would be an invitation to mismanagement.”

I keep finding echoes of the present within past movies and commentary. Today, it’s in an editorial by the great journalist I.F. Stone about President Richard Nixon’s attacks on the press. In “Bitter Battles Lie Ahead,” (I.F. Stone’s Weekly, Dec. 1, 1969), I found these gems:


Nixon’s real complaint is that the news media don’t agree with him. Since the First Amendment doesn’t require the press to agree with the President, he doesn’t dare say this openly and instead charges unfairness.


[A Marine general] criticized the news media for failing to present a “positive” picture of the conflict and said how long the war lasts would “depend in lots of respects on how good treatment it gets from our news media.” So the main obstacle to victory is the First Amendment, and Jeffersonianism will soon be un-American again.


Plain Political Incompetence
In Saigon the regime is cracking down on the press as dissatisfaction rises. Here the Administration is trying to make independent reporting seem unpatriotic. In the events of the tumultuous last two weeks, the Administration has been demonstrating its incompetence on many levels; to give it freedom from criticism would be an invitation to mismanagement.


Nothing is more dangerous than weak men who think they are tough guys.


This Administration is capable of suicidal folly. … But there are bitter battles ahead. We had better get ready for them.