There are two “topics” on my mind. One results from watching the C-Span show where people call in from all over the country, usually to a group of journalists. I’ve seen it twice in the last several days; yesterday the journalists represented the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the New York Times and Newsweek; today just one journalist, a young woman from the Wall Street Journal, with a degree from Yale in something and a masters from Oxford in history.
So many of the callers are excoriating “the media” or “the press” for presenting Reagan in a negative light, or else for being too hard on him during questioning sessions. I know you’ve heard or read the same sort of thing. In fact, I saw the congressman (or senator) Alan Cranston on TV in Lionville thrashing the press for asking Reagan the wrong questions at some occasion prior to his recent press conference. (The woman today from the Wall Street Journal remarked that journalists get a chance to ask questions of Reagan for 30 minutes every four months, given his current rate of holding news conferences.)
All this is irritating to me, and I hope the journalists stick to their guns. They respond with grace and restraint in the shows I’ve seen. Can you make some connection between the apparent great rate of semi-literacy in the country and the obvious great concern of Reaganite media-critics that masses of people will be swayed against Reagan by a partisan press? Was it Jefferson that made such a thing of an educated electorate able to make its own judgments and come to its own conclusions? I wonder if the people whom they fear might be swayed even read the press; on the other hand, everyone watches TV, and that’s probably the medium they (the media-critics) fear the most.
It’s a good thing I’m not a journalist, because I can’t extract any telling thoughts out of this soup of impressions, at the moment, but I “feel” that there’s something dangerously deviant and sinister and irrelevant in these great howlings about maltreatment of public figures at the hands of the “media,” which 9 out of 10 of the howlers treat as a singular word!
[Correspondence, Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]