Vent your spleen here
Nothing so invigorating to start the day as a good, solid blast of spleen, and no target better than The Sun. Or so it would seem from the calumnies that have come pouring down on the head of the reporter and the reader editor since we innocently omitted the race of the assailant in a sketchy description included in an article about a rape.
That arch-Tory Samuel Johnson once spoke admiringly of Lord Bathurst to Mrs. Piozzi: "Dear Bathurst was a man to my very heart's content: he hated a fool, and he hated a rogue, and he hated a Whig; he was a very good hater."
Hate is very readily transferred from the person or thing hated (a public official, a political party, a trend in fashion) to the thing bringing the thing hated to mind (a newspaper). Sometimes the two combine neatly.
In Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism by Eric Burns, we find examples of the abuse that newspapers heaped on the Founders: President Washington was described “variously as ‘a gambler, a cheapskate, a horsebeater, a dictator, and a most horrid swearer and blasphemer.’ He was labeled ‘treacherous,’ ‘mischievous,’ and ‘inefficient.’ He was said to favor ‘stately journeying through the American continent in search of personal incense” and to enjoy ‘ostentatious professions of piety.’ He was, appearances notwithstanding, a ‘frail mortal’; no less was he ‘a spoiled child, despotic,’ ‘a tyrannical monster.’”
Newspapers, in fact, offered a double charge. Those you agreed with fanned the flames of your dislike, and those on the other side occasioned an additional burst of contempt.
The violent dislikes fostered by American newspapers were burlesqued in Mark Twain’s short story “Journalism in Tennessee,” in which the narrator takes a post as an associate editor of the Morning Glory and Johnson County War-Whoop. His initial effort at an editorial is found too bland, and the editor undertakes to revise it:
“While he was in the midst of his work, somebody shot at him through the open window,
and marred the symmetry of my ear.
"’Ah,’ said he, "’that is that scoundrel Smith, of the Moral Volcano—he was due yesterday.’ And he snatched a navy revolver from his belt and fired—Smith dropped, shot in the thigh. The shot spoiled Smith's aim, who was just taking a second chance and he crippled a stranger. It was me. Merely a finger shot off.”
Our readers and colleagues seldom resort to firearms, but their dislike burns with a hard, gemlike flame. A few years ago, on the occasion of a prominent Baltimorean’s death, no notice appeared in The Sun. He had taken his detestation of this newspaper to the grave, and his family honored his memory by refusing to cooperate with our obituary desk.
Thus we trudge on, providing information and amusement to those who seek them, and furnishing an invigorating flow of blood to the brain to those who dislike what they read.