Sentinel under Siege: The Triumphs and Troubles of America's Free Press

By Stanley E. Flink | Go to book overview

9
ENLARGING THE FOURTH ESTATE

I would not want to work as a journalist for an outfit that was not profitable. . . . If a publication is not owned by a company which is robust, it's going to become vulnerable on journalistic grounds, as well as financial grounds.

-- Strobe Talbott, former Washington bureau chief, Time Magazine; U.S. deputy secretary of state

The effect of the Bill of Rights -- when it was finally enacted with the fateful limitations put upon it by the Senate to preserve independent powers for the separate states -- was not immediately seen. What is more, despite hortatory speeches by many distinguished figures -- Virginia's Patrick Henry most persistently, but many others, North and South -- cautioning that a bill of rights was required if the Constitution was to stand, it took (as already noted) nearly three years for the states to approve the amendments. And despite some genuine conviction about "enumerated rights, " they were not cited with any frequency or passion until the Civil War years.

What preoccupied the Congress and the states most vehemently during the first half-century of constitutional government was property, commerce, and an almost neurotic interest in limiting the central government's power. Patrick Henry, during the constitutional ratification debates, had risen to his feet indefatigably for twenty-three days, speaking for three or four hours at a time. He didactically described the potential horrors of federal taxation, takeovers by northern merchants, and forced payments to British creditors; above all, he pointed to the absence of guarantees for the rights of individual citizens. He wanted most to get a second constitutional convention (where fundamental changes might be made to protect private property and commercial interests more emphatically), but he got instead a bill of rights.1

Meanwhile, the Republicans extolled the virtues of the common man, using newspapers to spread their views. Getting votes inspired, early on, the use of propaganda in the press, a kind of spin that was to become en

-100-

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Sentinel under Siege: The Triumphs and Troubles of America's Free Press
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - IN SEARCH OF A ROLE 5
  • 2 - THE PRESS AND THE LAW 18
  • 3 - MALICE WITHOUT WIT 29
  • 4 - POMP AND PROVENANCE 45
  • 5 - PRACTICING FREEDOM 70
  • 6 - THE LIMITS OF LIBERTY 78
  • 7 - CRAFTING A CONSTITUTION 87
  • 8 - SAFEGUARDING LIBERTY 95
  • 9 - ENLARGING THE FOURTH ESTATE 100
  • 10 - THE BLOODIEST WAR 112
  • 11 - THE BOTTOM LINES 120
  • 12 - TURNING AWAY 140
  • 13 - THE FIRST AND THE FOURTEENTH 149
  • 16 - TRASH AND FLASH 172
  • 17 - THE IS AND THE OUGHT 180
  • 18 - THE CRITICS 188
  • 19 - FEAR AND LOATHING 197
  • 20 - THE WEIGHT OF OBLIGATIONS 209
  • 21 - THE PARADOX OF SELF-GOVERNMENT 218
  • 22 - LIBEL AND LIABILITY 234
  • 23 - FREE AS THE AIR 244
  • 24 - TRAINING THE WATCHDOGS 256
  • EPILOGUEO: PATHFINDING 262
  • Notes 271
  • SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 301
  • ABOUT THE BOOK AND AUTHOR 309
  • Index 311
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