Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Mainstream Media have Always been with Us

I suspect that most TEA Party advocates have a knee-jerk reaction to San Francisco as a hotbed of destructive liberalism (which is to say socialism undermining “the American way” of life).  However, this being a culture that prides itself on its ignorance of history, I suspect that such folks would shake their heads in disbelief at the suggestion that things were not always that way in my City by the Bay.  Indeed, back in the days of the New Deal, when the cry for social justice was just as strong as it is today, San Francisco was dominated by a conservative press.  Those who are amused by the ways in which things seem to stay the same as change works its course might enjoy this passage from Leta Miller’s Music & Politics in San Francisco:  From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War:

However, San Francisco’s overwhelmingly conservative press (the News being the sole exception) blatantly pressured the public to support Alf Landon and excited hysterical opposition to FDR’s New Deal.  The Examiner was particularly strident.  The day before the election, it ran nearly a dozen long articles in its front section endorsing the Republican ticket:  “Why the New Deal has been Repudiated by Distinguished Democrats,” “Landon Offers Security,” “What Landon Stands For:  Good Government,” and most prominently, “Tomorrow:  The American Way or the Road to Socialism.”  this last article began with a frightening projection were FDR to be reelected:  “Tomorrow may be the most momentous day in the history of this country since July 4, 1776,” the article stated.  “Forty-five million voters will decide whether their country is to remain a constitutional democracy or become a socialistic nation.”

Of course this was a time when the United States had been dealing with “Red scares” of one sort or another in every decade since the Russian Revolution.  Nevertheless, it is valuable to remember that the press was as rabid in 1936 as Fox News is today and for exactly the same reason, which is that those who hold the power can exercise that power over what the rest of us see in print.

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