John Swinton (1830-1901), the former Chief of Staff for the New York Times, was one of America's best loved newspapermen. He was called by his peers, "The Dean of his profession." He was asked in 1880 to give a toast before the New York Press Club, and in so doing made a shocking admission:

There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history. in America as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to villify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and the folly of this toasting of an independent press? We are tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping jacks, they pull the string and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.


" ... the freedom of the press belongs to those who own the presses. And it's true."

Jonathan Tobin, Editor of the weekly The Jewish Ledger (West Hartford, USA)


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