All the Good Men in Jail

“If a person goes to a country and finds their newspapers filled with nothing but good news, there are good men in jail.”

Daniel P. Moynihan, U.S. Senator

A collection featuring newspapers from various states and countries at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
A collection featuring newspapers from various states and countries at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The quote above has been pulled from the top of a display in Washington’s famous Newseum. The Newseum undertakes the mission of relaying how important information, and the manipulation of information, is to the functionality, or dysfunctionality, of society. The quote is displayed above a collection of newspaper front pages from various states and countries. Ironically, all of them are filled with good news. They’re all filled of feel-good stories like good samaritans saving kittens and the dreams of little children being realized.

When I read the quote, it hit me hard. It’s one thing to make a claim like the one Senator Moynihan made, but it’s an entirely different thing to see the manifestation of that same claim. My friend and I walked through the hall analyzing the contents of each paper, and no top headline mentioned anything about stories regarding earthquakes, murders, or even genocide.

This got me thinking about the state of our democracy and the illusion of our free press. I wondered if it was ever really free to begin with. The United States champions itself as a nation that boasts the free status of its press. After all, we’re not like North Korea or anything… right? As my friend and I walked through the hall, however, the front cover stories weren’t very critical. By this, I mean that the headlines didn’t say what was wrong about the United States in general, or communities within the state.

If what Senator Moynihan says is true, then we should be extremely alarmed. Given the nature of politics right now, we should be seeing more pieces criticizing the society we have built around us. There is always something going wrong in our country, or in our world. Something is always happening, and if something is always happening, at least one person is trying to get a story regarding it out there. And if Senator Moynihan is right, they may very will be trying, but they’re facing great challenges while doing so. Doesn’t sound like a very free press to me, probably a lot of “fake news,” though.

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