3 thoughts on “A Brief History of Political Attacks

  1. Repetition in those days happened in the public houses and town squares. Not as omnipresent, as you say, Joe, but still out there.

    What this stuff always makes me think of is how brave and radical and revolutionary our founders really were. The press at the time of the Revolution made Beck and Maddow look like timid moderates. Complete lies, in four-part harmony with pictures and circles and arrows, were the rule in journalism. Newspapers were totally partisan and completely, joyfully, wonderfully irresponsible. No standards. No professional training for journalists. Make shit up and publish it as fast and furious as you can — although much of what was said in that 1800 campaign turned out to be true.

    Still — this was the atmosphere in which the First Amendment was written and passed and ratified. The founders were protecting irresponsible, reckless journalism — as well as protecting anyone’s ability to tell the truth.

    Freedom of the press, as these brave radicals envisioned it, includes the freedom to be wrong and rabid and irresponsible. Because that same freedom allows the truth to be told and the truth to be heard.

    And today — our strict constructionist conservatives, like Christine O’Donnell, threaten to crush a TV station if it doesn’t take off its website the video of O’Donnell slapping at her opponent in a debate when he kept asking her a question for which she had no answer.

    Let it all fly — the crap and the pure.

    (Now, and this is another subject, Jefferson also envisioned an educated populace that would be able to sort the crap from the pure. And instead we have…)

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