John Swinton Quote

“There is no such thing ... in America as an independent press.”

~ John Swinton

Labor's Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979

Ratings and Comments

laur, winnipeg

this quote is "wowing" so true.

Rick Z, Heartland, USA

Jeez! Kinda shatters any illusions we had about a "watchdog press" guarding our freedoms, doesn't it?

Joe, Rochester, MI

The media = intellectual prostitutes. Governement, big business and the media are not trustworthy.

Dick Trice, Fort Worth

With all mainstream media under control by corporations operating solely and selfishly for profit more than ever before, this great, honest statement is more true than ever.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

I'm in accord. OUR watchdog is the NSA.

Logan, Memphis, TN

Well said

A.Jurgensen, Stuart, FL

One only had to listen/watch NBC's David Gregory on Meet the Press this Sunday to know exactly what Swinton meant. Gregory all but teared-up with apologies at how he acted with WH Press Sec. Scott McClellan. Ugh!

Ginny, Sacramento

I think it was absolutely, fantastically true! Our media has prostituted itself. It works for the insiders. Unfortunately, there are too many people who rely solely on what they read in the newspapers and hear on the news. They sleep at their own peril.

Ron, Denver, CO

Before you agree so enthusiastically, do a little research into exactly who John Swinton was, what happened in his life to make him so bitter, WHY he said this in 1880, and how outraged his colleagues were about these remarks when he made them. I have worked in broadcasting all my life, and I can tell you with certainty that NO RESPONSIBLE JOURNALIST, by which I mean anyone employed by the major news organizations, believes this is true today. Those who do have already assumed there is some "vast left-wing liberal media conspiracy" and that this statement only confirms it. It's a case of the tail wagging the dog.

Niederurner, Zurich

he has a point of course, but i definitely prefer a world with a press to a world without any, the press is definitely an additional power with which has to be reckoned with, a good thing, the more power is shared (legislative, judicative, executive, journalism, economic leaders, intellectuals, writers, ...) the better.

J Carlton, Calgary

Without doubt we are fed falsehoods and impressions designed to get us all thinking a "certain way". Terms like "Global Village" and "Sustainable Development" are thinly veiled threats to our sovereignty and freedom that we collectively nod and say - That's a good idea...and further we slide towards global slavery.

jim k, Austin, Tx

Once long ago, the motto of the New York Times was "All The News That's Fit To Print". Now it's just all the news that fits.

Mike, Norwalk

The only investigative journalism going on is if some lady's gadget doesn't work and some local jock calls the manufacturer. Sources (by way of example, the Drudge Report), only rely on approved headlines (where is the uproar over the known 108% and otherwise blatant voter fraud - where's the media follow-up on WikiLeaks' findings, etc., etc., etc.) By multiple personal experiences, the media only rubber stamps what the government gives it. The talking heads on the left are religonists proselyting with an exaggerated fervor. The talking heads on the right, such as O'Reilly and Limbaugh used to be hard libertarian types until finances and management swayed them. From a legal field perspective, I've witnessed media hiring prejudices based on political leanings and willingness to only do what is told. From the time Swinton wrote this until now, the essence of what was illuminated has only got worse. For those (contrary to Swinton's assertions) that actually say what they believe, it almost always mirrors their belief system, not any facts or truth. I once spoke with a journalist that traveled to world for his agency. He was extremely annoyed with Fox news because, though what they say may be accurate at times, it doesn't fit with what is going on world wide and it should be removed from the air (his reporting to this day is still extremely biased).

Mike, Norwalk

Further, as to the media's not doing anything except rubber stamping what ever is given them from the government. Actual unemployment is well over 20%; and, who is really responsible for 9-11, and, the Bin Laden / Seal Team 6 - by whom and why were Seal Team 6 actually murdered (such as it is never revealed what a Seal Team does or where they are to preserve their live / they only travel in certain aircraft - not all in one craft, why were they all in an anti-regulation craft ?, etc.); and, why are constitutional legal references being removed from the internet; and, etc., etc., etc. . . .

Bill, Niles, MI

"My race, sir, is the human one"
Fred Saberhagen "The Holmes-Dracula Files"

Mann, Kalamazoo

I hope 'Ron', the broadcaster from Denver reads and responds to this: Sir, what do "RESPONSIBLE" journalists have to say about gargantuan lies of omission? Out of the many such lies I'm aware of, one in particular dogs my memory in the manner of a particularly pungent, lingering beer fart: U.S. mainstream media's refusal to cover "the Downing St. memo", as the story was breaking in Europe. Nor, in the years since, have the deadly serious revelations of the story been emphasized domestically. Adequate, substantial media coverage of the completely vital fact that the Bush Administration was MANUFACTURING "intelligence" to make citizens believe Saddam had WMDs, to scare them into demanding war, may very well have stopped one instead. But no. Media played, continues to play, the role of stenographer, "presstitute" as Paul Craig Roberts has named it, reporting government propaganda as 'fact' and leaving absolutely vital truth, genuine news, to rot on the vine. Swinton may very well have had extremely personal motives for saying what he did. Regardless, a look at what's missing from media-acknowledged history paints his words with a modern brushstroke of wisdom.

Walter Clark, Fullerton CA

What do I think?
I think you all should have read the Wikipedia article before you do your write-only communications here.
He was a Marxist. Like you commenters, you write more than you read, so he probably never read Das Kapital. But his ideas were spot on. Of course he's going to object to government-business alliance just as the Occupy Movement does today. But the reason they do in both cases is because business is the bad guy, not government.

J Carlton, Calgary're "rationalizing" away an obvious truth. What branch of Government do you work in?

Mike, Norwalk

Walter, if he was a Marxist, does that preclude him from stating an accurate observation ? What is incorrect about the commenters' statements ? Because Glenn Beck is a neo-con ? ? ?, does that stop him from stating the truth once in a while ? Because Rachel Maddow is a progressive ? ? ?, does that stop her from stating the truth once in a while ? The media may even express the truth once in a while but, that is more of an extreme exception than the rule.

J Allen, Arlington, Va

The internet has the power to correct this situation, we must fight every attempt at government control both domestic and international.

Robin, Spokane

The only thing that surprises me about this is the date it was said. I had actually believed the press was at one time honestly reporting the news rather than manipulating it. Apparently not. It also doesn't matter to me who this man was. Adolph Hitler and Karl Marx have both made intelligent, accurate statements in their lifetimes in spite of the monsters they were. That doesn't make it their statements any less true. To agree with a single thought someone has doesn't mean you support their agenda. It means you have an open mind.

Barry Kruse, Petaluma, CA

Independent from what? In Swinton's case, he was lamenting that the employees of the newspaper had to align their editorials with the perspective of the owner of the paper. He went on to found his own paper, espousing his own views, and I'm willing to bet he gave short shrift to any opposing views. I don't see the situation being all that different today. In fact, it seems that smaller media venues are far more likely to be extremist in their outlook than larger ones, which are compelled to be moderately balanced to maintain their market share. But what does this have to do with independence? What does it have to with truth?

Alan Root, Amherst, MA

Swinton let loose with this quote-to-be in 1880. The competitive nature of the media is quite different today. It is less a matter of angling a story to fit the needs of a particular interest. I read a half dozen newspapers and watch 2 or 3 TV newscasts daily. The competition among journalists to convey a tightly-woven set of facts somewhat stylistically ahead of other writers is one constant pressure. Also, we are confronted with so many editorial writers who must use prudence to shape their "in depth" interpretations of what is really happening in the world. Are there still monumental hoaxes out there waiting to be uncovered? Of course. There are no writers nor readers nor listeners nor viewers without some dishonesty in their characters.

dick, fort worth

I think Liberty Tree will be sued the next time I find my name and statement beneath a quotation for which I did not make.

J Carlton, Calgary

Gee Dick...good luck with that. If you didn't put it there, who did?

Editor, Liberty Quotes

Dick, according to our logs, your original post was on 02/14/2006 09:08 AM, in response to the last time this quote was sent out to the Liberty Tree list. The IP address is consistent with all your other posts at that time. You are a respected, longtime subscriber to Liberty Quotes, why make such a threat and insinuation? Just curious.

E Archer, NYC

dick, what's the problem? Do you disagree with what you said before? Are not the "mainstream media under control by corporations operating solely and selfishly for profit more than ever before"? I think you were right the first time and even more right today.

gail, Nashville

Looks to me like Ron in Denver stands alone

Anonymous, Lakeland, Florida

Whether or not this was true in 1880, it certainly seems appropriate today.

ValerieN, Richmond, VA.

The more important business of journalists, should be to serve as unbiased educators of truth,...guardians of our Freedoms.

SCSURFR, La Mirada

Is that his opinion?

Mike, Norwalk

News is the conveyance of intelligence, unbiased facts, previously unknown information, something having a specified influence or effect and a passing of events. The current evangelizing for the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land is not 'news'. The neo-con - progressive's religious entertainment (that's as close as I can get) that passes itself off as news either lies outright, fabricates straw-men to vilify, or threads a string of news through its presentations with a biased creating an unrecognizable spin, perverting the original event. Previous to this quote, the history of the War Between the States was changed by those calling themselves newspapers. A sharpened focus on slavery was to hide the real reasons for Northern aggression and try to give a moral reason for anything and everything being done, divert attention from war crimes and lull the general populous into believing enslaving the entirety of the once representative republic wasn't really happening.

Cal, Lewisville, TX

Dick, ft worth. You have my permission to be dismissed .

Clyde Harkins, Arvada, colorado

There can't ever be such a thing as an independent (truthful) media.  Why?  All reporters/speakers sign contracts that that legally bind them to follow the policies of the media outlet they work for.  Owners of the outlets all have moral/political views that  management and employers must follow. Even if John W. Swintons's quote about the media is made up by someone else it is absolutely true.


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