Infamous Scribblers
Infamous Scribblersby Eric Burns
Infamous Scribblers
Infamous Scribblers
by Eric Burns
4:53 PM INTRODUCTION Inappropriate Behavior IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, it was the worst of journalism and it is no small irony that the former condition led dir- ectly to the latter, that the golden age of America's founding was also the gutter age of American reporting, that the most notorious of presses in our nation's his- tory churned out its copy on the foothills of Olympus. The Declaration of Independ- ence was literature, but the New England Courant talked trash. The Constitution of the United States was philosophy; the Bos- ton Gazette slung mud. The Gazette of the United States and the National Gazette were conceived as weapons, not chron- icles of daily events; the two of them stood masthead to masthead, firing at each other, without ceasing, without blinking, without acknowledging the limitations of veracity. Philadelphia's Aurora was less ... 4:53 PM a celestial radiance than a ground-level reek, guilty of "taking a line that would have been regarded as treasonable in any later international conflict." And Porcu- pine's Gazette, the Aurora's sworn foe, was as barbed as its namesake. There were, of course, exceptions. Some journalism of the colonial era was cordial: Benjamin Franklin's pieces, especially in the Pennsylvania Gazette, were witty and insightful and, more often than not, ab- sent of malice in any form. Some journalism was thoughtful: Alex- ander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay collaborated on The Federalist Papers, first published in New York's Independent Journal, and they were as scholarly a col- lection of essays as has ever appeared in an American newspaper. Thomas Paine wrote with fiery perception, John Adams with a stiff-collared eloquence, and John Dick- inson, the so-called Pennsylvania Farmer, with a lawyer's sharply reasoned clarity. Some journalism was courageous: John Peter Zenger did not write at all but was a publisher of such uncommon and un- wavering principle that he would blaze a trail for all who followed. Some journalism was soporific: John Campbell produced so lifeless and irrele-
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Elad G@eladīš’10mo
Decided to reread after a few years. Great book on how founding fathers were all effectively bloggers
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