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Dirty Laundry

November 15, 2015

Early printing press, Author Thomas Quine, Source Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

“I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something
Something I can use
People love it when you lose
They love dirty laundry”

– Dirty Laundry, Don Henley

Our culture clamors for dirty laundry; seems to feed on controversy, sexual innuendo, and lurid details about the rich and famous. Despite that, it has become fashionable in some quarters to attack the press. This is often done to distract from unpleasant truths the press has managed to uncover.

Currently, the press is in the process of vetting the presidential candidates. This will, no doubt, be painful for the candidates. That is as it should be. The people have no other means of determining the truth or falsehood of claims made by those seeking public office.

Power is a dangerous thing. It must not be handed over to anyone whose character has not been fully explored. The testimony of acolytes and true believers does not suffice.

When Adolf Hitler took power in 1933, Germany had 4700 newspapers. Immediately, the Nazis moved to commandeer the radio, press, and newsreels [1]. Newspapers associated with opposition parties declared illegal were forced to close or “sold” to the Nazis at vastly below-market prices. Printing plants and equipment were seized.

Yes, there have been excesses by the press. Few of us will forget the role the paparazzi played in the death of Princess Diana. But the press, also, played a critical role in disclosure of the My Lai massacre, the Watergate break-in, the Catholic Church sex scandal, and the absence of WMD in Iraq.

In 1735 – before Lexington and Concord, before the Battle of Bunker Hill – the trial of a printer took place in New York. The British Crown charged John Peter Zenger with seditious libel for having aided in the publication of the New-York Weekly Journal, the first independent paper in the colonies, a newspaper which had accused the governor of tyrrany.

Zenger was acquitted. But his trial highlighted the importance of a free press – the right to which was enshrined in the First Amendment, alongside freedom of religion.

The words of Zenger’s counsel ring true, even today. We forget them at our peril:

“The question before the Court and you, Gentlemen of the jury, is not of small or private concern. It is not the cause of one poor printer, nor of New York alone, which you are now trying. No! It may in its consequence affect every free man that lives under a British government on the main of America. It is the best cause. It is the cause of liberty.”

[1] US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia, “The Press in the Third Reich – Establishing Control of the Press”, 8/18/15,

[2] Historical Society of the New York Courts, New York Legal History, Crown v. John Peter Zenger,

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the latest victims of terrorism, their families, and the people of France


  1. Everyone has some dirty laundry. People thrive on the laundry of others because it creates the false sense of being better than or superior to the one who has dirtier laundry than the observer. If the exposed dirty laundry is that of a celebrity, wow! The average person with no particular visibility instantly becomes better than or superior to the famous one. The observer’s ego skyrockets to a higher level.

    Of course, the tragic effect is that the runaway ego interferes will all normal interpersonal relationships. The remedy is simple. Stop feeding on the frailties of others. Pray for them instead!

    • I entirely agree. My point is only that, in a political context, we need that information to make informed decisions.

      • Since politicians represent the people and have the power to greatly influence the lives of the people, the people not only have a right but must know everything about the politicians, warts and all. It’s the only way voters can cast an informed vote–what the Founders referred to as the sacred vote. Consider that Obama has managed to seal virtually all his personal records. That situation should not be allowed when an individual wields as much power as the President of the United States.

        Entertainment and sports celebrities exist only for our amusement. Public interest in their dirty laundry is covered in my previous comment. I have no interest in hearing about it, with one exception. When a celebrity uses a national platform to promote political views or support a controversial cause, the character of the celebrity becomes absolutely relevant and therefore public.

      • Well said, Dr. Stebbins.

  2. What happens when a “free press” is loaded up with people who think like the establishment thinks? Does it still cover ALL the news? I find that they are quick to try and pull down a conservative black surgeon, but a liberal white senator from Nevada that has made millions from graft and corruption is totally given a free ride. Oh yes, then there is Hillary and her husband. Where they came from they are called “The Arkansas Mafia” by the locals who know them. Yes! Another free ride by the press. Oh, that the media WOULD investigate and vet all that run for that high office! But that would be a perfect world and we live in one that is controlled by the Prince of the Air (waves) who has his own anti-christ agenda. When it comes right down to it, the media is an extension of THAT agenda and it is not really about Nazi or Democrat or Republican, but Christ and Anti-christ.

    • This may all be true, Michael. I am certainly no fan of Hillary Clinton, though I have doubts about Ben Carson’s sincerity, as well. The fact that you and I can write about this subject is what the First Amendment protects.

      Blessings Always,


      • I doubt that we will have the freedom to express a counter view to the mantra of the establishment much longer. They have already shut down a great deal of our First Amendment rights with what they dictate to us as “political correctness” and much of that cuts into our freedom of religious expression as Christians.

        Blessing to you as well, my sister.

    • Good comments, Michael. It appears that you have answered your own question.

  3. Very well said.

  4. ajppobrien permalink

    A very interesting piece of writing.
    Really enjoyed.

  5. Freedom of speech is good. Indeed, there are plenty of upright examples aided by the press. But in the hands of selfish-ungodly minds, the power of the press can take dangerous detours away from truth and toward the pen holder’s own self-motivated desires.

    Here in Canada, for instance, our recent federal election was spearheaded by a massive smear campaign—lead by the CBC and other mainstream media that ganged together—to “stop Harper” and get Justin Trudeau elected. Their “vetting” consisted of real world questions for Harper vs questions of little substance for their man JT. They spun lies that seemed almost believable… even to me! Why lie? For starters… the Harper gov’t upheld Christian values, stood firm with Israel and cut spending for the crown corporation of the CBC. In comparison, Trudeau is a flashy name who promised billions of taxpayer’s dollars to CBC 😛

    All we can do is pray for discernnment, regardless of who holds the pen… Sorry Anna, ‘guess I got a bit fired-up 🙂 ♥ ❤

    • A very valid point. No reason at all to apologize. 🙂

      • Thank you, Anna 🙂 This whole Justin Trudeau thing oozes with corruption 😛 It’s like being stuck in a bad nightmare, but it’s really happening! 😥 ♥ ❤

      • I feel sometimes like crying. Watch the news and you will see democracy undermined and taken for granted — and this at a time that terrorism is on the rise. We are deliberately destroying the very form of free government countless men and women died to establish and protect.

      • Anna,

        What is so distressing to me is that we the people have seemingly forgotten the Giver of liberty and freedom. Can anyone truthfully say that America is a Christian nation? We murder one another at an unprecedented rate,we have the blood of fifty million innocents upon our hands,mutual respect and care for one another has all but been forgotten,and our elected leaders are some of the worst liars and deceivers of any generation. As you indicate,we have developed an insatiable appetite for that which is carnal,dirty,and cheap. As the Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah: “and my people love to have it so“.

        Yes,democracy is being undermined and certainly taken for granted,however we have the ability to stop this via the incredible power of the ballot box. I am afraid that it is not so much that others are deliberately destroying our way of life,but rather that our unwillingness to say enough is enough only further emboldens them to continue stripping away our freedoms. In other words,we are allowing this to happen because we have believed the lie that says “what can I do about it”?

        When will we join together and declare that we cannot afford to continue down this path?

        Apologies for the rant.


      • You can rant here any time, Ron. I certainly do. And I agree with you. Whatever America may once have been, we are not a Christian nation today.

        The separation of church and state was never intended to eliminate all public reference to religion and morality. But, as you say, Christians have bought into the lie that they are powerless to change things. As others have observed, for evil to flourish it only requires that good men do nothing.

        What I find equally dangerous is the sales pitch by politicians that Christianity can be expressed as the vote for a single party (or individual). God cannot be limited in such a way. If we are to influence this nation again — and witness effectively — we must play a broader role in society.

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