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Getting the Story Wrong: The Distortion of American Politics by the Press

Ever since the foundation of the American Republic, there has been both praise for and suspicion of the role the press plays in U.S. political life.  Thomas Jefferson famously remarked that, if it were left to him “to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I would not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”  And yet, Jefferson was also profoundly disturbed by the politically biased and inaccurate articles that he saw published in the press.  As he told James Monroe:  “My skepticism as to everything I see in a newspaper makes me indifferent whether I ever see one.” 

Jefferson’s ambivalence about the press becomes understandable when one considers the distorted reporting that has characterized the current campaign for the U.S. Presidency. 

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