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Thomas Jefferson – The Original Hater of Fake News

believe it or not…

 

You know who despised fake news before Trump’s coming?

Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson recognized the existential threat that unscrupulous writers could have on a society and wrote on the English’s attempt to pervert fact to their benefit…

 

An excerpt from Thomas Jefferson’s letter…

To G. K. van Hogendorp
Paris, Oct. 13, 1785

You ask me what are those operations of the British nation which are likely to befriend us, and how they will produce this effect? The British government as you may naturally suppose have it much at heart to reconcile their nation to the loss of America. This is essential to the repose, perhaps even to the safety of the King & his ministers. The most effectual engines for this purpose are the public papers. You know well that that government always kept a kind of standing army of news writers who without any regard to truth, or to what should be like truth, invented & put into the papers whatever might serve the minister. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper. When forced to acknolege our independance they were forced to redouble their efforts to keep the nation quiet. Instead of a few of the papers formerly engaged, they now engaged every one. No paper therefore comes out without a dose of paragraphs against America.

Source: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/let38.asp

 

It’s an old letter written in the manner of ye olde peoples… but the point behind his speech has come around to bite our asses.

 

If the media, if writers in general, are allowed to be interfered with by the state or allowed to be “captured” into a system where they’re rewarded by the state than inevitably they will work to serve the states purposes… which as our founding fathers reminded us frequently are generally at odds with their citizens rights.

 

It is notable that fake news is not a new problem. It is also notable that there is no clear-cut solution beyond culture. Only a strong culture that rewards personal responsibility and honesty can avoid both interference and capture by the state.

 

Things to think on…

Published by

Steve Zissou

Steve Zissou - a pen name. But who cares. Jordan works too.

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