The presidents and the press

By Christopher Harper

President Trump probably wouldn’t rank in the top five opponents of the media among U.S. presidents.

That’s the verdict of The New York Times in a review of a recent book, “The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media — From the Founding Fathers to Fake News” by Harold Holzer. 

Yes, that assessment appeared in DaTimes, albeit from Jack Shafer, the media analyst of Politico.

The book’s author is no fan of President Trump. Holzer worked for U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. 

John Adams signed sedition acts into law and used them against his critics in the media. George Washington even supported Adams’ anti-media tendencies. In his post-presidential years, Adams lamented that people read only Federalist or Republican newspapers—not both—leaving them with a one-sided view of the government in power. Sounds like a prelude to Fox and MSNBC.

Abraham Lincoln, arguably the best president in the nation’s history, imprisoned editors during the Civil War, banned newspapers from using the mail, and even confiscated printing presses. “Altogether, nearly 200 papers would face federally initiated subjugation during the Civil War,” Holzer writes. 

The Roosevelts enjoyed some of the best press among the presidents. But even they took aim at recalcitrant reporters. Theodore Roosevelt rebuked investigative journalists as “muckrakers,” or those who could only look down into the muck. He also filed a libel suit against Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, which finally was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

During World War II, Franklin Roosevelt ordered massive censorship of news organizations, including a government Office of the Censor. His administration also penalized any news organization that reported about his paralysis or his ill health in his final years.

President Woodrow Wilson imposed censorship during World War I in a heavy-handed manner, and his Espionage Act still stands as a repressive law against whistleblowers. 

The battle between President Richard Nixon and his press critics is well documented here—as it has been elsewhere. 

Although Holzer batters Trump for his attacks on the press, the author doesn’t hold back on Barack Obama. Holzer recalls the analysis of former Washington Post managing editor Leonard Downie Jr. that Obama’s “war on leaks and other efforts to control information” were the worst Washington had seen since Nixon.

All told, the book analyzes the 18 of the 45 presidents, with many nuggets about the various administrations.

For example, one journalist confides that the press was as much responsible for the New Deal as was FDR because of the glowing media coverage. That sounds about right!

Moreover, the press ignored JFK’s extra-marital affairs because journalists didn’t think the private doings affected public business. That, of course, ignored at least one affair that straddled a mistress and the Mob. One reporter referred to the president as the “swashbuckler in chief.”

Despite JFK’s tryst with the media, he targeted some enemies, including Henry Luce of Time and David Halberstam of DaTimes.

Although I’ve never been a fan of Lyndon Johnson, the saddest tales come from his administration. LBJ had a massive mandate from the voters in 1964–more than 61 percent–and an excellent rapport with the press. He managed to lose both public and the media’s support by misleading them about the war in Vietnam in what became known as the government’s credibility gap.

Jackson’s Party Trumps His Faith

Old News

by baldilocks

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

— Hebrews 10:24-25

The Reverend [sic] Jesse Jackson has other ideas.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is calling on people, especially religious leaders, not to follow through on President Donald Trump’s demand [sic] for churches and houses of worship to start reopening over Memorial Day weekend.

“To go to church or Sunday mass is an act of defiance, not an act of worship,” Jackson told WTOP’s Ken Duffy.

Trump on Friday asked governors to allow the reopening of places of worship, calling them “essential” and to “open them right now.”

The president also threatened state leaders that if they don’t follow through on his demand, he will “override the governors.”

Jackson, founder of the civil rights nonprofit Rainbow/PUSH coalition, believes that attendees who want to go out and worship should stay home until the threat of COVID-19 is over.

Jackson called on religious leaders and worshippers to “lead the way” and continue to obey coronavirus restrictions and social distancing measures.

“The virus does not have religion,” Jackson said. “It has no regard for your situation.”

First of all, the president isn’t giving orders to houses of worship. He is demanding that governors cease from standing in the way of corporate worship and that they come into alignment with the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

And, as mentioned in the Book of Hebrews, part of the free exercise of Christianity involves the assembling together of the faithful. This is simple.

Some questions I would ask Jackson if I thought he had a brain cell in his head that wasn’t devoted to enriching himself.

Do you believe that the God of the Bible is all powerful?
Do you believe that He is a healer and a protector if we ask it of him?
Do you believe the God rewards obedience to His Word?
Do you believe that God is more powerful than viruses?
What makes defiance and worship mutually exclusive?
If your governor outlawed Christianity, would you stop being a Christian?

I could go on, but my point is that Jackson is not a man of the Christian cloth and hasn’t been for a very long time – if he ever was one.

He’s just following orders dispensed from his Organized Left Puppet Masters.

Me in 2015:

Martin Luther King, Jr. was the prototype for the Black Leader concept, though not an epitome of it; other actual black leaders like Harriet Tubman or Marcus Garvey or Malcolm X were leaders organic to black populations/communities.

MLK certainly had rhetorical and financial support from outside of his community, but he didn’t start out that way.

(snip)

[T]he two nationally most well-known Black LeadersTM in this country are the Reverends [sic] Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and I contend that both are created personae, totally supported and publicized by the Organized Left.

A better label for the two? Community Organizers. You’ve heard of those before, have you not?

Also me a year earlier:

Sharpton has been a hilariously awful commentator for MSNBC for a bit. But even before that, MSNBC, CNN and even Fox News had been sticking microphones under him and other “civil rights leaders” as the go-to guys–and sometimes girls–as if they were the go-betweens for “the black community” and the rest of America.

“Civil rights leaders” almost never just spontaneously come to the fore anymore; they are created. The rise in the fortunes — literally and figuratively — of Sharpton should be proof of this. (And, as it turns out, Sharpton has always hidden backers.)

Even the concept of a civil rights leader is a created one. But, ‘agitator’ is better because it is more descriptive. The word makes me think of that part inside your washing machine — the constant spinning and the noise-making. And that’s where the comparison ends.

No one will be made clean by these men.

There have always been fake pastors, but Jackson is the modern American forerunner — and Sharpton is his “son” — selling fear instead of faith. But he’s old now and irrelevant.

Beware of the fear-pastors who are not so old.

Go to church/synagogue/mosque. Or don’t. But it is not your governor’s place to keep you from it. Don’t forget that.

Get some free exercise.

(Thanks to “Carlos Osweda.”)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Angela Merkel vs. Rob Schneider on free speech

Angela Merkel and Rob Schneider both made a big splash on the internet recently with comments regarding freedom of speech.  One demonstrated a remarkable understanding of the concept, the other proved not to understand the concept at all. 

You’d expect the Chancellor of Germany to be the individual who understands freedom of speech, however, this Breitbart article ‘Freedom of Expression Has Its Limits!’ – Merkel Rails Against Free Speech proves she holds some dangerous misconceptions.

Chancellor Angela Merkel railed against free speech in the German parliament, declaring that freedom of expression which offends “the dignity of other people” must be censored to secure a truly free society.

“We have freedom of expression,” the migrant crisis architect began dubiously, in a speech to the German federal parliament, or Bundestag, uploaded to social media by state broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW).

“For all those who claim that they can no longer express their opinion, I say this to them: If you express a pronounced opinion, you must live with the fact that you will be contradicted. Expressing an opinion does not come at zero cost!” she warned ominously, to applause from the assembled politicians.

“But freedom of expression has its limits. Those limits begin where hatred is spread. They begin where the dignity of other people is violated!” she continued, gesticulating wildly.

“This house will and must oppose extreme speech. Otherwise our society will no longer be the free society that it was,” she concluded, somewhat contradictorily.

This Tweet from Rob Schneider had me cheering because he posses an understanding of freedom of speech that is comparable to that of the founding fathers of the United States and the framers of the First Amendment.

Angela Merkel should carefully study this Ben Franklin quote, and so should progressive college professors and their badly misinformed snowflake students.

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.

Here is a George Washington quote that should be spread far and wide on college campuses.

For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.

Since students have been brainwashed by multiculturalism into not respecting white males, here is a Fredrick Douglass quote they should take note of.

Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come in their presence. Slavery cannot tolerate free speech.

The Fisherman

by baldilocks

No, not that Fisherman. The other one.

The power to tax is the power to destroy.

–Daniel Webster, et al.

The 36th president of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, is infamous for many things.

Most domestically notable are two programs: the Great Society and Medicare. Both programs can arguably be viewed as bait to Americans. Bait for what? Luring the poor into government dependence, luring the elderly into the same, and luring the descendants of all into catastrophic debt. This debt applies both individually and nationally.

However, I was fascinated to discover that these programs were not LBJ’s first forays into hooking groups into government control. At The Federalist, Leslie Loftis notes that his first target was the church.

When the federal tax code was written, that the government couldn’t tax churches was assumed. For one, at the beginning of the union, only the federal government was prohibited from establishing a religion. The state governments could and did establish churches. They didn’t tax churches, but collected taxes for the church. This stopped after the Civil War and the ratification and subsequent case law of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the federal proscription against an established religion to the individual states.

[snip]

Essentially, churches have complied with the exemption requirements of the tax code rather than asserting the right to be free from taxation.

[snip]

To punish and prevent political opponents [including churches] from speaking out against him, [in 1954] then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson, who was in a contentious re-election campaign, pushed through an amendment to the tax code which prohibits “political activity” by 501(c)(3) entities. It is called the Johnson Amendment. Since the prohibition passed, it has only been lightly—and selectively—enforced.

Loftis points to bi-partisan examples of this selective enforcement, but notes that

[m]ost churches, however, tend to err on the side of caution lest the IRS decide to prosecute, either on a whim or as part of a larger political intimidation program much like the one they have run in the past few years against conservative secular organizations.

In other words, due to LBJ’s little trap, most churches yield to fear and/or love of money.

Oh and Loftis also notes that the IRS is the process of composing new guidelines for political activity by tax-exempt religious organizations and churches at the the legal behest of the Freedom From Religion Foundation(!) Aren’t all we Jesus freaks, Bible-thumpers and bitter-clingers looking forward to the passage of such regulations so that we can find out what’s in them?

Back to LBJ. We have had several problematic presidents and the current one seems like the biggest one. But he and his ideological siblings who sit in political office at all levels of government–like Houston Mayor Annise Parker–can look to the politicians of the past and thank them for laying the foundations of tyranny by luring an intentionally under-educated populace into assenting to it.

Politicians like LBJ: Dixiecrat, Reenslaver of black Americans, and Persecutor of the Church.

Quite a legacy, don’t you think?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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