The Press

The Original Nasty Journalists

We’ve searched history for clues on how to cope with the financial crisis. But with future of journalism looking equally bleak, a new book reminds us there’s historical precedent for that, too. Marcus Daniel’s Scandal & Civility presents an in-depth look at the press in the 1790s, which was partisan and mean-spirited, making the modern press tame by comparison. Current coverage of politics seems gentle next to the contentious post-revolutionary press, which covered the XYZ affairs and The Whiskey Rebellion. And there is even precedent for all these bankrupt newspapers: back then some of the most influential rags—such as the Gazette of the United States—folded. According to a Wall Street Journal review, Scandal & Civility reminds us "just how vital a thriving news culture is to the well-being of our democracy."