John Swinton, editor of the New York Times in the 1880's, made this toast to the 'independent press' at a banquet held in his honor.
The remarks seem to come full circle to our time today.
"There is no such thing in America as an independent press, unless it is in the country towns. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write his honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would never appear in print.Swinton began his own newspaper later where he attacked the robber barons of his day.
I am paid $150.00 a week for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with—others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things—and any of you who would be so foolish as to write his honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.
The business of the New York journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his race and his country for his daily bread.
You know this and I know it, and what folly is this to be toasting an "Independent Press." We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping-jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men.
We are intellectual prostitutes."
By the way, $150 in Swinton's day would be $$3,393.65 today.