The Press and Media Cause Rampant Swaying of the Election Votes Through Their
Opinions and Reports


Today, the press and media cause rampant swaying of the vote through
their own opinions and reports. People are often misled with half-truths and
believable rumors that can aid or ruin an election. Journalists and the
newspapers often print things too hastily, without first investigating the truth
or at least both sides of a story. Candidates abuse the media, using money as a
pass to publicly slander and deface the character of their opposition, his
ideals, and even the innocent people related to him. These concepts did not
start recently, or even in our century. The press and media's views affected
the early presidencies too. Let's start with the first president elected by
vote, John Adams.
John Adams took the office of president in the year 1797. He was a
close admirer of Washington and was sometimes said to be Washington's shadow
(Presidency of John Adams, Ralph Adams Brown 1975). He and the Federalists
believed that nothing the Anti-federalists and their supporting press could say
would be enough to shake their control. Yet it was Adams who, in spite of his
undoubted intelligence, made a mistake of such proportions that it brought about
his own downfall and the party's (Press and the Presidency, John Tebbel 1985).
This mistake would be the Sedition Act, which tested the first amendment and the
freedoms of the press. This obviously did not please the press and its opinions
were generally shifted to that of the Anti-Federalist. This was a deadly blow
to John Adams' presidency and the Federalist party. He himself was no stranger
to the press, he worked together with the Sons of Liberty and "cooked up
paragraphs" while "working the political engine" in the Boston Gazette (Brown
1975). Adams experience with the press had convinced him that it was a primary
source of political persuasion, and the thought was intriguing to him. He is
quoted as saying in response to mudslinging between the two parties "There is
nothing that the people dislike that they do not attack" (Tebbel 1985). When
the press was being used in his favor, or against the crown of England, he
seemed to be proud of the individuality and freedoms of the American press.
However, when it was used against him for negative purposes, he wanted it
stopped.
Adams had obstacles from the beginning of his presidency. The new
president had to establish his own identity among these men of his own party,
and at the same time he was compelled to defend himself as best he could against
the virulent Anti-Federalist press, which had simply resumed its campaign
against him where it left off with Washington (Brown 1975). After debates on
the topic, Adams and the Federalists were for censorship as the Sedition Act
called for. William B Giles of Virginia asserted that

opinion whether founded in truth or error is a property, which every
individual
possesses, and which in this country he is at liberty to address to the
public
through the medium of the press... It should not be forgotten that in
the United
States the rights of every man and of every society are popular--the
rights of
opinion, or of thinking and speaking and publishing are sacred.
(Tebbel 1985)

The Federalists continually lost the following of the people through the
press and its opinions of them. Despite the rejection by the general populous,
they continued on and passed treason bills, forbidding true freedom of the press
and public opinion. Adams and the Federalists were sweeped out of office after
one term, leaving with a bad image due to the persistent press.
Thomas Jefferson was then elected into office by popular vote. He had
distinctly opposing views to that of the now ousted Federalist party, but still
he too had some obstacles due to the press and media. He truly believed in the
rights of the people, and he held the freedom of the press in high regard. He
believed that in order to make democracy function as it should, there must be an
absolutely free press (Tebbel 1985). He did occasionally speak out against the
press, but this was usually when the press did not match the enthusiasm or
truly match his ideals. His problems with the press had its origins for similar
reasons that had made Washington and Adams enemies of the press-- that is, the
newspapers remained primarily political organs. No matter how rapidly they were
advancing in their news coverage, they were still in the hands of politicians
who used printers as tools for their own adgendas. He too, tried