November 5, 2019

All The News That’s Fit To Print”

Remember, remember, the 5th of November.” I know they used to hang traitors in England. But high school history didn’t cover the official punishment for treason: Hanged, Drawn and Quartered.”

Wikipedia has an article on how attitudes in England shifted away from such barbaric punishments. TLDR: chopping people up in public started gaining negative press.

Then there was a story of the burning of Catherine Murphy in 1789 (for Coining). No newspapers covered her execution. The story didn’t fit inside the 4-page-limit of the newspapers at the time.

It reminds me of Christopher Hitchens, one of my heroes. He never came to terms with the grey lady:

Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. All the News That’s Fit to Print,’ it says. It’s been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it’s as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan.” Christopher Hitchens in Letters to a Young Contrarian


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