Major-General John A. Drx,
Commanding at New York:
Whereas there has been wickedly and traitorously printed and published this morning in the New York World and New York Journal of Commerce, newspapers printed and published in the city of New York, a false and spurious proclamation purporting to be signed by the President and to be countersigned by the Secretary of State, which publication is of a treasonable nature, designed to give aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States and to the rebels now at war against the Government and their aiders and abettors, you are therefore hereby commanded forthwith to arrest and imprison in any fort or military prison in your command the editors, proprietors, and publishers of the aforesaid newspapers, and all such persons as, after public notice has been given of the falsehood of said publication, print and publish the same with intent to give aid and comfort to the enemy; and you will hold the persons so arrested in close custody until they can be brought to trial before a military commission for their offense. You will also take possession by military force of the printing establishments of the New York World and Journal of Commerce, and hold the same until further orders, and prohibit any further publication therefrom.
Executive Order, May 18, 1864-President Lincoln reacting to Fake News.
Trump released his highly anticipated Fake News Awards. Go here to read the list. Eh, color me unimpressed. I could have put together a better, and more colorful, list. It appears to me likely that after Trump tweeted that he was giving out such awards he delegated the work of coming up with a list to some of his more talent-less drones. The more interesting aspect of this meaningless episode in the eternal sparring between the Executive Branch and the media is the reaction to it which has been hysterical in both the senses of hysteria and funny.
Humorless pretend Republican Senator Jeff Flake, soon to be retired rather than face the voters of Arizona, compared Trump to Stalin in a Senate speech this week. The forces of the Left of course have been calling Trump the reincarnation of Hitler since Hillary was throwing objects after learning that she had somehow managed to lose to a man who received one, count them one, major newspaper endorsement.
What all of this demonstrates is not only the hyper-partisanship of our time, and do not doubt that Senator Flake is a member in good standing of the establishment party, but a true lack of knowledge of history. Has Trump passed a Sedition Act of 1798, as a Federalist Congress under John Adams did? Has he thrown critical members of the media into jail as occurred during the Lincoln administration? Has the Trump administration made it illegal to criticize the government as occurred when Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1918 under the Wilson administration? Go here to read about FDR’s war against media critical of him. The Obama administration conducted an eight year war against Fox News. The examples cited could be multiplied a hundred-fold. No administration has liked to be criticized by the media and many have attempted to punish critics in the media.
The only thing unusual about Trump and the media is that almost all of the media is in unified lock-step against Trump and his administration. In the face of that jarring fact, Trump’s criticisms come across to me as being fairly weak and timid, at least in comparison of the actions of most of his predecessors. In any case, this back and forth is part of an American tradition, as old as the Republic, of hostility between opposition media and the party in power. The truly ominous development today, and outside our political traditions, is that almost all of the media now backs one side in our ongoing political battles and that fact of course bothers almost all of the media not a whit.