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Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism Paperback – February 13, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Charges of media bias and the controversy over good vs. bad journalism are older than the nation, literally. Veteran journalist Eric Burns has written about the notorious founding fathers of journalism in a highly readable, outrageous and frequently hilarious book called "Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism."
Here, a disclaimer may be warranted. Burns hosts "Fox News Watch" on Fox News Channel (Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. ET), a program on which I appear as a panelist. Nevertheless, I am writing about his book without his encouragement, without remuneration and without even the promise of more airtime.
"Infamous Scribblers" is a line taken from the pen of George Washington, who responded to the disdain some in the press and politics had for him with disdain of his own. Schoolchildren are taught many things about some of our Founding Fathers, but little about what their journalistic tormentors said about them. Burns' book wonderfully completes the record.
The National Gazette was so afraid President George Washington would become a monarch that it took the slightest occasion, including Washington's 61st birthday party, to warn of impending doom to the newly born republic. Its editor, Philip Freneau (a college classmate of James Madison at Princeton), wrote, "Who will deny that the celebrating of birth days is not a striking feature of royalty? We hear of no such thing during the republic of Rome ...Read more ›
One excuse the newspapers had then that they do not have now is that they were new. Neither Europe nor the colonies had a tradition of an impartial press, so the press had to invent itself. The first newspaper was closed because the publisher was obnoxious and refused to get a license. The second was a toadying journal that printed what the authorities wanted. Ben Franklin's elder brother was the first crusading journalist, but took up a malicious crusade against smallpox inoculations. Founding father Sam Adams edited the _Boston Gazette_ and had no interest in printing the truth, unless the truth happened to promote American liberty.Read more ›
"It was the best of times; it was the worst of journalism." It was an era that spawned the finest minds our country has ever seen drawn into public service. It was an era that spawned some our country's most raucous journalists.
Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Sam Adams were accomplished journalists. George Washington and John Adams detested journalists. Thomas Jefferson was a skilled manipulator of journalists.
Franklin's brother, James, was one of the first muckrakers. Thomas Paine was thought-provoking, high-minded and persuasive. James Callender was a hatchet man. The journalists of the era were often partisan, scandalous and sensational. They were often stirring, passionate and brilliant.
Together they aired the issues that caused the now United States to declare its independence and chart a course that lead to its position in the world today. Eric Burns, host of Fox News Channel's "Fox News Watch" relates the story.
This tale is essential to understanding the press' role in our society today.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An awesome book showing the true power of the press and mans ability to manipulate it to a certain end!Published 9 months ago by David
no fault on service, however book did not meet my expectations, a bit redundantPublished 14 months ago by Robin K. La Rue
Readable, illuminating narrative. No matter how bad or biased you might think journalism is today, current shortcomings pale by comparison with what Burns documents. Read morePublished on March 9, 2014 by Kenneth Umbach
This is a fantastic book that shows, in great detail, the knock down drag out war between the Republicans and the Federalists that was fought by proxy in the press. Read morePublished on February 21, 2014 by Randy
Much needed history of the press, and the men behind the newspapers, in the formative years of the Republic. They were as important as the Founding Fathers.Published on July 30, 2013 by Kathleen M. Dervin
This is an eye opener for anyone who looks back on history and assumes things were done more honorably, more civilly, and with more integrity than they are now. Read morePublished on July 15, 2013 by M. Howells
This book explains the history of Journalism since the beginning of the new Americas. This book is a good read to understand the history from word of mouth to the printed word.Published on February 3, 2013 by Amazon Customer
I happened to see this book while on vacation; we were killing time in a beautiful atheneum in St. Johnsbury, VT waiting for the start of a movie we wanted to see down the street. Read morePublished on January 30, 2013 by Pamela Munton
The book is a readable account of the beginnings of American newspapers, which were at times more biased and full of lies than today's worst news outlets. Read morePublished on September 15, 2012 by maryl