ARRA News Service
ARRA News Service facebook page  
News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & the USA. Upholding the rights granted by God & guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, "republican" principles / ideals, transparent & limited "smaller" government, free markets, lower taxes, due process of law, liberty & individual freedom. All content approval rests with the ARRA News Service Editor. Opinions are those of the authors. While varied positions are reported, beliefs & principles remain fixed. No revenue is generated for or by this site - no paid ads accepted - no payments for articles. Fair Use doctrine is posted & used.
Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
Contact: editor@arranewsservice.com (Pub. Since July, 2006)
    Home Page

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Founders Anticipated ‘Fake News.’ Here’s What They Did About It.

by Jarrett Stepman: Following the presidential election, numerous stories surfaced about how “fake news” influenced the results. This prompted a reaction from the media and a concerted effort by the social media giant Facebook to crack down on the phenomenon—announcing that it would in part by using liberal fact-checkers to distinguish the “real” from the “fake” news.

The truth is that while the American media landscape has been in a constant state of change over two centuries, the spread of hyperpartisan, scurrilous, and even phony news stories has been more common than uncommon throughout the history of the republic.

Ultimately, despite the increasingly Wild West state of journalism, Americans have been better at finding the truth than less free societies.

The media response frames the fake news issue as nearly the single greatest threat to democracy in our time. But despite the worries that surround an uptick in fraudulent news, the phenomenon is nothing new, nor does it particularly portend dark times in America’s future.

The overreaction in response, potentially damaging both the right to free speech and a culture that supports it, may be more dangerous to a free society.

‘Dupes of Pretended Patriots’
The idea that the press could try to deceive rather than enlighten readers was not lost on the Founders. In the years before and after the American Revolution there was an explosion of printing presses throughout the Western world as improved printing technology was becoming widely available.

Journalists and pamphleteers were certainly vital to spreading the ideas of American rebellion against the English—names like Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams were nearly synonymous with the American Revolution, and they certainly weren’t alone. Though propaganda and distortion of the news were common as well.

After America gained independence, there were still huge numbers of scribblers writing about news and politics with varying levels of credibility and accuracy.

When the framers of the Constitution met to discuss the construction of the new government at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, freedom of the press and what it would mean for the future of the country was certainly on their minds.

Many Founders fretted about what the proliferation of false or destructive notions would mean for the idea of democracy and a society of mass political participation.

Massachusetts delegate Elbridge Gerry lamented how the people in his home state were being led astray by false stories from malcontents and manipulators.

“The people do not want [lack] virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots,” Gerry said. “In Massachusetts it had been fully confirmed by experience, that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions, by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute.”

So what did the Founders do to stop this problem? They created a system of government that would allow room for democracy, yet checked its vices: through institutions like Congress, the constitutional amendment process, and division of power between branches of government as well as the states and federal government. Not to mention the Electoral College, which the modern left now decries as unfair and undemocratic.

Unfortunately, some of these checks have been eroded over time and continue to be undermined. For instance, the 17th Amendment forced states to elect senators through a popular vote rather than have the state legislature choose a representative, which has reduced the power of the states in the American system.

And in some states, like California, the requirement to pass a constitutional amendment is simply 50 percent of the vote plus one, yet again increasing the chance that a temporary excitement of the populace can lead to rapid, negative changes in governance.

The weakening of the structural checks on democracy has been the greater threat of fake news’ proliferation than nonsense peddlers themselves.

Tocqueville on the ‘Liberty of the Press’
It was not only the Founders who understood the trade-offs between a free press and misleading news. Alexis de Tocqueville, the famed French observer of American life, wrote about the freedom of the press in his 1835 book “Democracy in America.”

Tocqueville noted that when he arrived in the U.S., the very first newspaper article he read was an overheated piece accusing then-President Andrew Jackson of being a “heartless despot, solely occupied with the preservation of his own authority” and a “gamester” who ruled by corruption. This type of account was not unusual.

The years following the founding saw a booming and free-wheeling publishing industry, unimpeded by the licensing and restrictions common in other countries. Freedom allowed newspapers to proliferate throughout the United States in a highly decentralized way.

And in early American history, most newspapers were expressly partisan or outright controlled by individual politicians. They often aggressively attacked and made outrageous comments about political opponents.

Yet Tocqueville wrote that despite the general vehemence of the press, America was further from actual violence and political revolution than other societies that tightly controlled information.

While recognizing the occasional problems of an unimpeded fourth estate, Tocqueville wrote that “in order to enjoy the inestimable benefits that the liberty of the press ensures, it is necessary to submit to the inevitable evils that it creates.”

An attempt to submit “false” news and opinions through an official fact-checker would likely only elevate and perhaps justify a false opinion in the minds of the people, according to Tocqueville.

He continued to write that expecting to have the good of a free press without the bad has been “one of those illusions which commonly mislead nations in their times of sickness when, tired with faction and exhausted by effort, they attempt to make hostile opinions and contrary principles coexist upon the same soil.”

Americans were so used to being bombarded with opinions and information from a diverse media, Tocqueville wrote, that they were less likely to react to falsehoods and outrageous opinions.

Fake News existed in that time as well as ours, but it did little to outright convince people to change their views. This continues to be the case today.

Tocqueville concluded of a free press:When the right of every citizen to a share in the government of society is acknowledged, everyone must be presumed to be able to choose between the various opinions of his contemporaries and to appreciate the different facts from which inferences may be drawn. The sovereignty of the people and the liberty of the press may therefore be regarded as correlative, just as the censorship of the press and universal suffrage are two things which are irreconcilably opposed and which cannot long be retained among the institutions of the same people.The visiting Frenchman understood what Americans have almost always believed. Occasional false news stories cannot destroy a society fitted for liberty, but extreme efforts to contain them will.

The Search for Truth
The reality is, barriers to prevent modern Americans from receiving “fake news” are unlikely to succeed in a free society where a mass of information is readily available.

The internet, and a lack of trust in the legacy media, has allowed numerous new media publications to find success. It has again radically decentralized the way Americans get their information.

These legacy media organizations are attempting to reign in the chaos with new gimmicks like fact-checkers, but ultimately their influence and credibility are fading in the minds of Americans as fewer people trust or desire to read those sources.

This isn’t an anomaly in American life—it has been the norm. We must trust and maintain the mediating constitutional system the Founders created along the judgment of the American people.

The freedom of the press, enshrined in the First Amendment and tempered by institutions designed to slow governmental change and thwart temporary excitements of opinion, created a nation incredibly free, yet robust enough to withstand potential large-scale errors in judgment.

The Founders understood that the good would outweigh the bad with a free press, and no court could justly measure the rightness or wrongness of news and public opinion. They realized that without allowing the press to operate freely and leaving the people as its ultimate tribunal, America would never truly be a land of liberty.

Fake or biased news was the willingly paid price of an open society, and the winnowing process of the American system ultimately leads the country toward the truth.
-------------------------
Jarrett Stepman (@JarrettStepman) is a contributor to The Daily Signal.

Tags: The Founders, Anticipated Fake News, What They Did About It, Jarrett Stepman, The Daily Signal To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 10:40 AM - Post Link

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home


National Debt
Don't miss anything!
Subscribe to the
ARRA News Service
It's FREE & No Ads!

You will receive a verification email
& must validate you subscribed!

You Then Receive One Email Each AM
With Prior Days Articles / Toons / More


Also, Join us at:
Facebook.com/ARRANewsService


Recent Posts:
Personal Tweets by the editor:
Dr. Bill - OzarkGuru - @arra
#Christian Conservative; Retired USAF & Grad Professor. Constitution NRA ProLife schoolchoice fairtax - Editor ARRA NEWS SERVICE. THANKS FOR FOLLOWING!

Action Links!
Arkansas State Senators
AR State Representatives
Arkansas Governor Office
Arkansas Attorney General
Bankrupting America
US House of Representatives
US Senators
Family Research Council
GrassFire
NumbersUSA
Ballotpedia
Judgepedia
Sunshine Review

Facebook Accts - Dr. Bill Smith
Pages:
ARRA News Service
Arkansans Against Big Government
Alley-White Am. Legion #52
Catholics & Protestants United Against Discrimination
End Taxpayer Funding of NPR
Overturn Roe V. Wade
Prolife Soldiers
Project Wildfire 4 Life
Republican Liberty Caucus of Arkansas
The Gold Standard
US Atty Gen Loretta Lynch, aka Eric Holder, Must Go
Veterans for Sarah Palin
Why Vote for Hillary (Satire)
FB Groups:
Arkansas For Sarah Palin
Arkansas Conservative Caucus
Arkansas County Tea Party
Arkansans' Discussion Group on National Issues
Blogs for Borders
Conservative Solutions
Conservative Voices
Defend Marriage -- Arkansas
FairTax
FairTax Nation
Arkansas for FairTax
Friends of the TEA Party in Arkansas
Freedom Roundtable
Let's Mine AR Lignite NOW!
Pro-Life Rocks - Arkansas
Republican Network
Republican Liberty Caucus of AR
Reject the U.N.

Patriots
Exchange
Links

Request Via
Article Comment

Links to ARRA News
A Patriotic Nurse
Agora Associates
a12iggymom's Blog
America, You Asked For It!
Americans for a Free Republic
America's Best Choice
America's Whatchtower
An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings
ARRA Twitter
As A Matter of Fact
As The Crackerhead Crumbles
Baaad Media!
Black & Right
Blogs For Borders
Blogs for Palin
Blow the Trumpet Ministry
Boot Berryism
Cap'n Bob & the Damsel
Chicago Ray Report
Chuck Baldwin - links
Citizen Pamphleteer
Common Cents
Conservative Hideout
Conservative Observer AZ
Conservative Voices
Conway Real Deal
Defeat Obama's Agenda
Diana's Corner
eGOP News
Florida Pundit
Franklin Online Outreach
Freedom For US Now
Free Zone Media Center
For God and Liberty
Garland County Republicans
Greater Fitchburg For Life
Guns and Religion
Lasting Liberty Blog
Liberal Isn't Amy
Liberty's Lifeline
Maggie's Notebook
Marathon Pundit
Monkey in the Middle
NASA Satellites
No Runny Eggs
Okie Campaigns
Our Voices Arkansas
Patriot's Corner
ProLifeBlogs
Publius Forum
Randy's Roundtable
Real Debate Wisconsin
Religion and Morality
Right on Issues that Matter
Right Reason
Rocking on the Right Side
Saber Point
Saline Watchdog
Secure Arkansas
Sentry Journal
Sultan Knish
Teresamerica
Stop Obama Satire & Cartoons
The Arkansas Patriot
The Audacity of Logic
The Blue Eye View
The Bobo Files
The Born Again Americans
TEA Party Cartoons
The Conservative Citizen
The Foxhole | Unapologetic Patriot
The Liberty Republican
The Lid
The Looking Spoon
The Maritime Sentry
The O Word
The Path to Tyranny Blog
The Real Polichick
The War on Guns
TOTUS
Truth About Obamacare
Twitter @ARRA
Warning Signs
Women's Prayer & Action
WyBlog

Editor's Managed Twitter Accounts
Twitter Dr. Bill Smith @arra
Twitter Arkansas @GOPNetwork
Twitter @BootBerryism
Twitter @SovereignAllies
Twitter @FairTaxNation

Editor's Recommended Orgs
Accuracy in Media (AIM)
American Committment
American Culture & Faith Institute
American Enterprise Institute
American Family Business Institute
Americans for Limited Government
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Tax Reform
American Security Council Fdn
AR Faith & Ethics Council
Arkansas Policy Foundation
Ayn Rand Institute
Bill of Rights Institute
Campaign for Working Families
Center for Individual Freedom
Center for Immigration Studies
Center for Just Society
Center for Freedom & Prosperity
Citizens Against Gov't Waste
Citizens in Charge Foundstion
Coalition for the Future American Worker
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Concerned Veterans for America
Concerned Women for America
Declaration of Am. Renewal
Eagle Forum
FairTax
Family Research Council
Family Security Matters
Franklin Center for Gov't & Public Integrity
Freedom Works
Gingrich Productions
Global Incident Map
Great Americans
Gold Standard 2012 Project
Gun Owners of America (GOA)
Heritage Action for America
David Horowitz Freedom Center
Institute For Justice
Institute for Truth in Accounting
Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Judicial Watch
Less Government
Media Reseach Center
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Right To Work Foundation
National Rifle Association (NRA)
National Rifle Association (NRA-ILA)
News Busters
O'Bluejacket's Patriotic Flicks
OathKeepers
Open Secrets
Presidential Prayer Team
Religious Freedom Coalition
Renew America
Ron Paul Institute
State Policy Network
Tax Foundation
Tax Policy Center
The Club for Growth
The Federalist
The Gold Standard Now
The Heritage Foundation
The Leadership Institute
Union Facts



Blogs For Borders

Reject the United Nations

Adopt Our Troops in Prayer


Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

FairTax Nation on FaceBook
Friends of Israel - Stand with Israel
Blog Feeds
Syndicated - Get the ARRA News Service feed Syndicated!
ARRA Blog Feed

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Add to The Free Dictionary

Powered by Blogger


  • How To Exchange Links!
  • Comments by contributing authors or other sources do not necessarily reflect the position the editor, other contributing authors, sources, readers, or commenters. No contributors, or editors are paid for articles, images, cartoons, etc. While having reported on and promoting the beliefs associated with the ARRA, this blog/site is not controlled by nor funded by the ARRA. This site/blog does not advertise for money or services nor does it solicit funding for its support.
  • Fair Use: This site/blog may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material as provided for in section Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Per said section, the material on this site/blog is distributed without profit to readers to view for the expressed purpose of viewing the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. Any person/entity seeking to use copyrighted material shared on this site/blog for purposes that go beyond "fair use," must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
  • © 2006 - 2017 ARRA News Service
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.