Friday, September 8, 2017

Alexis de Tocqueville on the Press in America

In America there is scarcely a hamlet which has not its own newspaper. It may readily be imagined that neither discipline nor unity of design can be communicated to so multifarious a host, and each one is consequently led to fight under his own standard. All the political journals of the United States are arrayed indeed on the side of the administration or against it; but they attack and defend in a thousand different ways. They can not succeed in forming those great currents of opinion which overwhelm the most solid obstacles. This division of the influence of the press produces a variety of other consequences which are scarcely less remarkable. The facility with which journals can be established induces a multitude of individuals to take part in them; but as the extent of competition precludes the possibility of considerable profit, the most distinguished classes of society are rarely led to engage in these undertakings. But such is the number of the public prints that, even if they were a source of wealth, writers of ability could not be found to direct them all. The journalists of the United States are usually placed in a very humble position with a scanty education and a vulgar turn of mind.

The spirit of the journalist is to appeal crudely, directly, and artlessly to the passions of the people he is addressing, forsaking principles in order to portray individuals, pursue them into their private lives, and lay bare their weaknesses and vices.  Such abuse of thought can only be deplored.

         -- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country

2.  The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3.  The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country.

4.  USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie chart format.

5.  The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn't have to leave LA to do it.

6.  The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7.  The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country, and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8.  The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9.  The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they are Democrats.

10.  The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

11.  The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.


Mike said...

The spirit of the journalist has migrated to the soul of the blogger.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Ha! Some pretty amusing (and accurate) definitions there.

Here are some of my favorite quotes about newspapers:

"Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists".
~ Norman Mailer

"Journalism consists largely in saying 'Lord Jones died' to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive".
~ G. K. Chesterton

"Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space".
~ Rebecca West

On a more serious note, at a 1991 Bilderberg conference, David Rockefeller supposedly said:

"We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries."

If he didn't really say it, he might as well have.

~ D-FensDogG
Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends

Birgit said...

This is quite funny, sad, true and sad. I say it once again because we rely on journalists giving us some modicum of truth but we must weigh through the bullshit to get some crap. Actually the funnies are often the best thing. Love some of the quotes Stephen gave

allenwoodhaven said...

A most excellent post. Fascinating to read de Tocqueville's words. I've a keen interest in newspapers and journalism. It's a vital profession and should be performed accurately and honorably to be of any real value. Four generations of my family, ending with my father, ran one newspaper or another. I believe that during their times, it provided a valuable public service. I know it ended that way.

I've seen that newspaper reader list once before; it's pretty much spot on! I once heard of a particular newspaper's local reputed motto "yesterday's news tomorrow".

Cloudia said...

Except for the groan inducing portrayal of my SF paper I LOVED this and found interesting crumbs of truth in the portrayals! Thanks Angel