Friday, January 18, 2013

What Was Treated as News a Hundred Years Ago

At the beginning of the last century, there were two newspapers in Hudson: the Hudson Republican and the Hudson Evening Register. The political bias of the former is obvious from its title; the latter unabashedly identified itself as "the official Democratic paper." But even recognizing the partisan nature of newspapers at the time, a reader today will still be surprised that this item was presented as news in the Evening Register on the day before Election Day in 1911.


  1. Remember: the Republican's freed the slaves! There was a time when they were the good guys.

  2. A schism in the GOP was evident as early as 1905 between progressives and the old guard.

    By 1911, the progressive wing of the Republican Party presented a threatening alternative to the tepid reform agenda of the Democrats. The above column from the Evening Register nicely captures the Democrats' moment of panic and reactive consolidation to what soon became the momentum of Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party. (TR's contribution persists in today's GOP, though it typically requires some nudging and better packaging.)

    But for raw partisan journalism, it's hard to imagine anything more vitriolic than Hudson's "The Bee" and "The Wasp" from 110 years earlier. Wow!

  3. None of that matters anymore. In the current age of dumbing down and willful ignorance, history and facts can't hold a candle to "messaging."

    Hearing that master of messaging Bill Clinton at the Golden Globes this week going on about the fight to abolish slavery, anyone would have thought that the party founded by Aaron Burr - Clinton's prevaricating predecessor - had freed the slaves!

    "[it was] a tough fight to push a bill through a bitterly divided Congress," Clinton explained about passing the 13th amendment.

    "Winning it required the president to make a lot of unsavory deals that had nothing to do with the big issue. I wouldn't know anything about that."

    The self-satisfied crowd tittered with delight.

    It's all so Orwellian, but using that adjective only matters to the "intelligentsia" when the shoe is on the other foot (or is it only ever "messaged" to appear that way; cf., Guantanamo; rendition; assassination-by-drone; collateral damage; NSC data collection, etc., are all acceptable as long as it's the party of conscience and deep feeling engaging in these practices.)

    It's our hypocrisy - everyone's - that will destroy us in the end.

  4. "None of that matters anymore," was intended as a "reply" to Mr. Meyer's wistful observation.