Spiro Agnew is well-remembered for his involvement in tax evasion charges linked to bribery, which led to his resignation as Vice President under Richard Nixon.
Before Agnew’s time, there was already a growing dissatisfaction among the conservative right regarding the media. Agnew took aim at the major television networks, labeling them as having an unprecedented control over public opinion in American history.
In a speech given in Des Moines in 1969, Agnew highlighted that the American people would not accept such a concentration of power in government, so it was equally relevant to question its presence in the hands of a small group of privileged individuals who were not elected and yet enjoyed a government-sanctioned monopoly.
Agnew’s efforts did not wane; he collaborated with skilled Nixon speechwriters and columnists, such as William Safire and Pat Buchanan, to craft memorable phrases like “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
Agnew’s campaign remarkably
Agnew’s campaign was remarkably successful, as it left a lasting impact on the media landscape. Journalists, editors, and producers became wary of potential criticism from the right, leading them to frequently self-censor and avoid appearing biased.
Coverage of Donald Trump’s candidacy brought forth a credibility crisis, as the media faced accusations of timidity and a failure to adequately scrutinize Trump and his policies.
The media’s preference for ratings over balance allowed Trump to dominate, disadvantaging other Republican candidates.
Some argue that the media, sensitive to conservative criticism, now overcompensates in its coverage of the other side, particularly against Clinton. Critics point out that Trump’s false statements are widespread and well-documented, yet journalists often hesitate to call him a liar, fearing it would compromise their objectivity.
Nicholas Kristof highlighted that fact-checkers found a significant difference in the rate of false statements between Trump and Clinton.
The liberal complaints about media bias are often dismissed as partisan, but they express frustration over the right’s partisan media campaign influencing journalistic institutions. Liberals feel that negative stories about Trump are sometimes not given enough attention, while Clinton’s shortcomings are overly emphasized.
Merit Journalistic institutions
What matters most is whether these complaints have merit. Journalistic institutions are being challenged on whether they are overly concerned with condemnation from the right, leading to demonstrable bias against the Democratic candidate for president. This situation marks the first time since Spiro Agnew’s conservative campaign against the media that media leaders face such systematic questioning about their potential biases.
Spiro Theodore Agnew, also known as Spiro T. Nixon’s Republican administration. He has the unpleasant distinction of becoming the second vice president to resign, the first having been John C. Calhoun in 1832. However, Agnew’s resignation was the first one done under duress.
Agnew was born on November 9, 1918, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Theodore Agnew, a Greek-immigrant restaurateur, and Margaret Akers, who hailed from Virginia. He pursued law studies at the University of Baltimore and later established a law practice in a Baltimore suburb in 1947. As governor, he gained recognition for his moderate policies, including securing a graduated income tax, enacting strong antipollution laws, passing the first open-housing law south of the Mason and Dixon Line, and repealing the state’s 306-year-old anti-miscegenation law.
Agnew became well-known for his ferocious speeches while running for vice president in 1968. In his harsh criticism of the Nixon government and Vietnam War demonstrators, he used terms like “nattering nabobs of negativism” and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.” He wasn’t well-known to the general public when he was nominated, but his passionate speech helped him become well-known.
Agnew’s downfall began in the summer of 1973 when he faced investigation for allegations of extortion, bribery, and income-tax violations, mainly related to his time as Maryland’s governor. Agnew fought against the federal indictments, claiming that a vice president in office could not be accused of a crime and that the accusations were baseless.
Agnew eventually resigned vice presidency
Agnew eventually resigned from the vice presidency on October 10, 1973, after engaging in secret plea bargaining with a federal judge. In response to a single federal count of failing to file a tax return for 1967 while the governor of Maryland, he entered a nolo contendere (no contest) plea.
Following his resignation and disbarment by the state of Maryland in 1974, Agnew became a consultant to foreign business interests. In 1980, he wrote a book called “Go Quietly…or Else,” which defended his political career and criticized officials from the Nixon administration.
In a 1969 speech in Des Moines, Spiro Agnew expressed that the American people would rightfully not accept a concentration of power in government.
Agnew was determined in his efforts, and with the assistance of skilled Nixon speechwriters like William Safire and Pat Buchanan, he coined memorable phrases like “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
His political campaign was highly successful, leading to a lasting impact on how reporters, editors, and producers approached their work. They became constantly wary, fearing accusations of carrying a biased, liberal agenda.
Liberals argued Donald Trump
Liberals argued that Donald Trump received an excessive amount of television time during the primaries, overshadowing his competitors. Furthermore, they felt that Trump was being held to a much lower standard compared to Hillary Clinton, whose old scandals were repeatedly covered while new Trump controversies received relatively little attention.
The media’s obsession with ratings and its sensitivity to conservative criticism seem to have led to an overcompensation against the other side. Josh Marshall, founder of the Talking Points Memo blog, highlighted that the scrutiny directed at Clinton and her foundation far outweighed any investigative focus on Donald Trump.
The media’s part in allowing Trump to dominate television coverage throughout the primaries needs to be addressed, even though it may not directly connect to the liberal-conservative debate.
This unequal treatment of candidates disadvantaged other Republican contenders and compromised the media’s commitment to impartiality and balance.
The issue at hand is not about avoiding holding Clinton accountable.
Only 13% of Clinton’s remarks received comparable ratings, in contrast.
The contrast is significant, and Kristof emphasized that there is no comparison with Trump’s frequency of falsehoods.
Josh Marshall, in his argument, pointed out that Trump’s repeated false statements were so bold and recurrent that they have strained the media’s traditional rules and practices. Additionally, Trump’s history as a birther, questioning Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president, was false, yet he falsely accused Clinton of starting that conspiracy.
Despite these clear instances of deception, journalists often hesitate to call Trump a liar, fearing that doing so might raise doubts about their objectivity.
Liberals’ complaints about the media are often dismissed as partisan anger. However, they express frustration over the influence of the right’s partisan media campaign, which has intimidated journalistic institutions. Liberals are also upset about the magnification of Clinton’s shortcomings and the relatively short-lived attention given to negative stories about Trump.
While critics’ motives may be questioned, what truly matters is whether their complaints are justified. For the first time since Spiro Agnew initiated the conservative campaign against the media, those in charge of our journalistic institutions face systematic challenges about potential bias. People are questioning whether these institutions are overly concerned about condemnation from the right, leading to demonstrable bias against the Democratic candidate for president.