Media Blog

The Patriot Press

This report about the shabby way TIME magazine has treated one of America’s heroes reminded me of the following passage from The Media in America, in a chapter called “The Revolutionary Press”:

Even more important for morale than attacks on the British were discussions of American successes and future prospects. Printers filled their pages with discussions of the justness of the American cause and the success of the Continental Army in battle. There was no doubt that the United States would be victorious, for, as one newspaper writer averred, “it is allowed on all hands that the American Army is now equal at least to any army in the world for discipline, activity and bravery. There are no soldiers in Europe more exemplary for subordination, regularity of conduct, patience in fatigues and hardships, perseverance in service, and intrepidity in danger.” Newspapers worked to increase public resolve by urging all readers to put the war above all other concerns. In 1776, [Revolutionary printer] Isaiah Thomas proposed: “Let us not busy ourselves now about our private internal affairs, but with the utmost care and caution, attend to the grand American controversy, and assist her in her earnest struggle in support of her natural rights and freedom.” Similar sentiments appeared throughout the war. According to Revolutionary printers, such efforts would produce final victory. Through such discussions, the press sought to help achieve victory by assuring that American morale remained high throughout the armed conflict.

Today’s media, with its wretched fixation on a tiny minority of bad actors in the U.S. military, could not have strayed further from the ideals of the patriot press.


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