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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 17, 1909)
i -. H 'r "T , -J TWr"-&''i, i i"rtf js&ixpmj .
NOT BACK TO OXiBVBANDISM
Whon an odltorlal entltldd "On to Sham Bat
tlo" appoarod in a rocont lssuo of Thof Commoner
h dispatch was sent out from Lincoln to tho effect
that Mr. Bryan had declared in Tho Commoner
"that tho next light of democracy must bo along
tho linos of Cleveland's victory." Some of tho
oastorn papers still further misrepresented tho
article by putting headlines over tho press dis
patch liko tho following "Nobraskan says
domocracy must got back to Cleveland's tariff
ideas, etc." In order that history may bo kept
straight, Tho Commoner ventures to suggest
that the democratic party bdgan a fight for radi
cal tariff reform in congress in 1892. Tho Mc
Kinloy bill had aroused opposition to the prin
ciple of protection, and tho democratic house
passed several bills dealing with separate sched
ules and providing for substantial reductions
and recognizing tho principle of free raw ma
terial. Mr. Bryan made his first congressional
tariff speech in support of house roll 6007, which
was a bill "to place wool on tho froti list and
reduce tho duties on woolen goods." 'This
speech was delivered on March 16, 1892, and
was widely circulated. In this speech Mr. Bryan ;
attacked tho principle of protection and advo
cated a tariff for revenue only. It was after a
democratic congress had gone on record in favor
of free wool and several other measures recog
nizing tho doctrine of freo raw material that
tho victory of 1892 wfts wort. The platform
adopted by the national convention in, 1892 was
not written by Mr. Cleveland' dr li Is immediate
friends; in fact, it was much niotfb radical than,
tho platform which Mr. Cleveland favored.
When tho ways and means committee ' sent a
sub-committee to Mr. Whitney, thb chairman
of tho dembcratlc natibnal committee, to ask
whether further tariff legislation' was desired
bofefe congress adjPnrned, Mr. ' Whitm3yv ex
pressed dissatisfaction with, the radical position
taken by the convention -and dedlared' that1 no
more tariff legislation waY'desired "af'tha't 'time.'
After tho election the more i radical of the
tariff reform element urged a' special 'session of
congress for the purpose of proceeding wltti
tariff revision along the lines laid dbwn by; tho
platforin'but "President Cleveland was toot will
ing " to 'convene' coifgVess f 6r ' that purpose; ' al-x
though ho dicf 6h.ll a special session later' 'for
tho consideration of the unconditional repeal
of tho Sherman law.
While there Is no reason why Cleveland and
anti-Cleveland democrats should fall out over
tho tariff, question at this time, ,still t is not
fair for the friends of Mr. Cleveland, to, accuse
tariff reformers of taking up with Mr. Cleve-
land's tariff ideas. Neither, ls.it far to denounce,
the doctrine of free raw material as a .Clove-:,
land doctrine. It liad t the support qt tho dem4
ocrats in congress before tho election of 1892,
and the platform of 192 was.the outgrqwth,
of the fight made in congress, and Mr.- Cleve-.
land not only did not write the platform but
even .disliked it.
Tariff reform, howevork should stand or fall
upon its merits. An idea is good not because
.it is advocated by some .particular person, but
because it has merit in itself. Tho advocates
of tariff reform and the a'dvbcates- of free raw
material as a means of securing tariff Teform do
not have to rely upon tho name of any supporter-
of the policy they can support their
position by argument and are willing ' to let it1
rest upon Its merits. . ,.
Plain Talk By a Newspaper?
man on a "Free Press
A Boston dispatch carried by, the Associated
Press referring to President Taft's visit to Yale
says; "He became plain 'Bill 'Taft' again' to
many of his old classmates' and college com
panions." ' - '
'It vould be well if Mr. 'Taft Would "become
plain "Bill" to the American people; ! getting
nearer to them through- a ' more sympathetic
ctyncerri for their interest arid fat the frdm Ald
richism by reason of a proper4 appreciation of
VM S 1 l
' The Matoon, (IU,) Commercial, reproducing
The Commoner editorial entitled. "Oh; to Sham
Battle,' says: , , . '' N '
"In an editorial published under' the heading
of 'On 4to Sham Battle' in last week's issue of
The Commoner, William J, Bryan calls' the demo
cratic party back to Its old time, principles, pf.
'tariff for revenue only.' It Is a' tfmely article;
in these days when democracy.is represented in
By William Marion Reedy of St. Xoufs Mirror
That Is what the newspaper is here for now
adays tho money. It were folly to attempt
to disguiso the fact. Teach tho boys to write! ,
Whoever sees an item In a newspaper well writ
ten? Time was when journalism had kinship
with literature. Now tho chief requisite in a
reporter is legs. All he has to do is to get his
misinformation as quickly as possible, shout it ,
over tho telephone to tho office, where it , is .
misunderstood, and then the facts are set up in,
a "box," topped with headlines and followed
by loosely written slush.
The prizes for journalism, are not for thoso
who can think soundly or write well. The man
who writes has no chanco to reach the real top
most power in journalism. Ho can only become,
an employe of some rich concern, writing notic
ing that , ho believes but .what his employers ,
order him to think. What editor today controls.,
his paper? I can think of but one dear old,
Henry Watterson, a relic from the golden age
Where Is there an editor today liko Dana, Gree
ley, Halstead, McCullough, Hyde, Joseph tMedill,
Raymond a nian who makeshis paper's policy
the expression of himself alone? .There isn't,
ono unless it be .Joseph, Pulitzer. Ho is the
only great, newspaper pwner who can write'.
Except him, and possibly Mr Hearst, .there la'
no newspaper owner who holds .general prin
ciples, or, literary grace, or any .form, pf idealism,
supreme. The owners of papers .aTe business
men. They want dividends. They want the
business, the commercial Ideal, upheld, at ,all
hazards. They must get the money from tho
men (that have it, they must cater to please tho
men -who; run the community and. such, men are
out for their own pockets, first, last and all' the i
time. , All the rest is "leather!' -and prunella."
The great Intellectual personality no Jongertdom-'.
inates , the paper, The supreme; headship of a '
great newspaper is ,not tho man0 who may be
turned out in the school of journalisnii but a
moueyanaker The journalist properucan never,
bfe. more 'than, a, "hired? man" iontai great, papery f
So a school of journalism dqes not promise the.
sort, of success that 'means, the -exercise of tho
real power, of journalism. And yet I come with'
a protest against the commercialization of jour
nalism and with a plea for a return to Idealism.
Everything in this country has been regulat
ed, mor.e or less, except the daily press. The
daily press has participated Tmore. or less, in the.
regulatlop, but there are reasqns for believing
that' ope of the greatest evils, in the United
States is this same daily press Itself, and I have
thought that this might be a good occasion to
present some of my reasons why a great many
people, including myself, .believe that daily
journalism, in some of its most successful mani
festations, is really a great menace to democracy.'
...All, of us admit all the good that may 'be
claimedi if or , the pres& and for publicity and'
the Lord knows tho press can Vtoot its own,
horn" with all sufficient plangency but no per
son capable of observation, or of thought, can
nowadays cling to the superstition that the great
daily, press is free, or xipdeperident, or in any
sense an organ of public opinion. ' '
I may state what is well knpwn to you all,
that it is impossible, nowadays, tp found, apesT
paper unless a jnan be a millionaire, or through
a combination of capitalists Jn, any large cityi1;
is, impossible to escape, including ,in the number,
men. who have chiefly ; ac'qufred their ,wejalth
through investments in corporations based upon
public franchises of one sort or another, ,and
this, being the case, we know it is only human,
nature, that such .men will Jnsj&t upon? the, con-.
ducing( p.f the. newppapei in. a, way ito .insure
the, protection of th,elr ojrjh interests- t , .
. In tle cas,e, of newspapers funded by men of
small .meansjn- the past, ap4; npw attained, unto,
greatness, we -must remember that- the .founded
. in each instance has invested- his money ' In ex
actly those .enterprises which , look? , fpr thefr
success te the exploitation of epuljlic-. Thus,
his interests become ,thq special, in(terests a'nd
whether he will pr no,fin conducting his news
paper,, he will have synypathy with all private
interests sjmjlar to his pw.n, Take the case of.
the New York Worjd,, and, Mr.,, Pulitzer, Mr,
Pulitzer has reached "his, present s,t.ate rom.
humble beginnings. lie hap. pan ducted' a great'
newspaper, generally speaking, along free and
Independent 'lines, andyet, when-ia,,-c,erta,in. ppp
ular candidate for president, rentes :t6tihe-stric
W$ an'att .lX: ?i World, ith
VOLUME 9, NUMBER 30
an inquiry concerning the railroad and other
investments of Mr. Pulitzer, there Is none of
us that fails to realize the perfect appositeness
of the retort.
It is for this reason that we find so many of
our great newspapers tearing the air with their
shrieks and pawing up the earth about minor
evils, but remaining silent when fundamental
wrongs are brought under fire. We find these
newspapers very strong on the idea that we
Bhall have good men, but ever ready to attack
the good man when he comes out in support
of an idea, the tendency or p'urpose of which
is to exact from the holders of privilege a share
of the gains from those privileges that belong
by right to the community which, by its growth
and activity, has made those privileges -valuable.
There are many great newspapers pretending
tp be 'friends of the people, but where Is there
one tha,t does.npt at the first fajnt symptom of
attack, upon the, source of corrupt wealth, with
wb.Icn its proprietor is ,in sympathy, immediately
fall back upon tne so-called constitutional guar
antees of property, and?ctieck progressive democ
racy w4ith the cry.pl conservatism?
Tp one en the inside of daily journalism it is
laughable to observe Jiow, with the decline of
interest in the editorial, the daily newspaper,
in. order to accomplish its purpose of swaying
the public, has had recourse to doctoring the
There is not a great, powerful interest in the
United States that Is mot, at the present time,
maintaining a press bureau, the sPle purpose
of whjch is to get into the news columns of the
papers, articles so framed as to constitute- effec
tive arguments against, all' proposed Interference
with suph interests. , We Jhave long been fa
miliar with the action o? the book publishers in
furnishing to newspapers printed reviews of new
books, We have all seen, the excellent ivork of
the theatrical press-agent in generating an inter
est in the. show or, the star which he represents.
But it, is not so generally known, I imagine, that
all of the public service , corporations of the
country are cemented.in one organization, which
cojfductsa press .bureau, andso has nearly every
other .big interest in the country.
.Every sgreat railroad hasjitsbureau to accom
plish the.isame general ipurpese Pf giving the
public. the -'.'depe" 'that "is toiithe best interests t
of; tiieorppratjon),, During-'the i insurance in-;.
vestigatlon... in. r.&ew, York At . was shown hpw
the prqss .was '.worked by agents on. big salaries,
to boost the business a'nd increase the graft of.
the-men .at the head of the enterprise, Who were
taking th,e cream off .the top ofi the milk sup
plied by the general public; and even while the
inyestigation was still in progress there were
ipstances in which tbere appeared in the , col
umns qf, the dailies dexterously worded articles,
the purport of whicb. was ,to take the edge off
thp facts uncovered in, the examinations by Mr.,
Hugbes, now governpr of New York. Thee
were clear cases in which paid notices at one
dollar pgr line were run in the newspapers as
parto the record iu the investigation, and dur-,
ing the whole sensational period of the inquiry
the, greatest St. Louis, paper, in point of wealth
and power, never at any time gave the facts
more ,tha'u a column ,of .snatie, ,
Furthermore, when we ..look at the great news
papers,' ', we observe another laughable feature,
in ..the manner in whlph they work upon the
general public, the most elaborate confidence
ganib ,npwn in the history of America. We
read,ln( the editorial columns here and th.ere,
the most violent denunciation and scathing de
rision, 6t the wealthy and fashionable, but we
turn W the news column's 'aiQd find this same
newspaper catering slavishly; n gorgeous de
scription and striking illustration, to all the
basest yani of the wealthy and to the cur
fota'ity of the poor. We are tqld what the, mil
lionaire , 'eats lor breakfast, .dinner and. supper,
a$d ,wh'6tiier he prefers, night-shirts jor pajamas,
' We see, ..Illustrated .tfe lingerie and the stpek
fngs,,'pf 'the golden brides of foreign noble ad
venturers,' and we .are "treated; to such a siqken
ingj Celebration of. wealth, as js not to be fpun
ih'n'y pth&r countryon. the glpbe. To tb?e
ps who, are, as, we say, , In the knew" this Is a
deliberate policy. 4Tjtie, great newspapers play
to trie masses 'for (lijrpulatiqri, and then turn
arpund a.nd co'ddle. the, clashes for advertising.
The most violently socialistic and anarchistic
editorials are found in the papers that cater mpst
to the glorification qt the pleasures and posses
sions, of he extremely wealthy; but, let there
impend in the cpm'iquhlty In which any pf tbese
sensational papers is,, printed,, any proposal for
th e., regulation. oV; the, destruction of .the system
w'bich prpduces, pur racist offensive, wealth and
we,, npd.'the anarchi$iq.,page. 'grqwnsuddenly
, am. M- m.. .in.- tx,.
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