One of the problems is that when the founders arranged freedom of the press, it was a really vile press -- lying, vituperative. On the other hand, they were not all on the same side. Every faction had its press. And now the press has a monolithic quality to its opinions that I think is troublesome in a way the old press was not. All the same, I don't know what to do about that because if you start censoring for bias, you're probably in a much worse situation than you are putting up with the bias.
-- Judge Robert Bork, former circuit judge for District of Columbia Court of Appeals; John M. Olin Scholar in Legal Studies, American Enterprise Institute
The recognition of crucial public roles to be performed by the press and the responsibilities that evolved from this understanding had been developing in the minds of serious editors and publishers for many years. Self-awareness grew in part because of the rapidly rising industrial prosperity following World War I, but more urgently because of the depression in the early 1930s, the demagogic voices of fascism rumbling out of Europe, and the first signals of Japanese expansionism in the Far East. The news weeklies, picture magazines, wire services, and radio were coalescing into a mass communications ethos that was not yet prepared for television. News reached the marketplace of ideas primarily in the form of printed words. Despite the absence of the instantaneous "real time" coverage that the networks and CNN would bring to the world in the latter part of the century, the influence of mass communications was already being blamed for immorality, election results, violent crime, and political corruption.
It is said that when Tallyrand was told that the Russian ambassador to Paris had died, the renowned French diplomat mused, "I wonder what his motive could have been?"1 Politicians have long wondered in the same skeptical fashion about the media wherever it has been independent and
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Publication information: Book title: Sentinel under Siege:The Triumphs and Troubles of America's Free Press. Contributors: Stanley E. Flink - Author. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 188.
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