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Friday, February 13, 2009

A Tale Of Early Media Bias -- Civil War Era

This entry is longer than I intended, but please read on, I will make it interesting

I was getting so sick of listening to Obama and his gloom and doom predictions, as well as the media playing him up as the messiah, that I sought some diversion. I watched a PBS special on President Lincoln and wondered if there were some obvious signs of Divine Providence during the Civil War. I’m sure there were many, but specifically, I wanted to check the dates of the Emancipation Proclamation in relation to the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1863), the turning point of the war. The TV special hinted that Lincoln, a very religious man, thought that unless and until the Union finally took official action to end slavery – which the country had debated and agonized over for years – the horror of war would continue. There were several acts declaring slaves to be free during 1862 and then culminating in the broader Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The Unions’ fortunes did appear to change from that time on.

Gettysburg started as a chance encounter between the two sides, while the main Union army was miles away. As if by providence, General George Meade was promoted suddenly to take command of the Army of the Potomac upon the resignation of General Hooker. Then he rushed his army to Gettysburg where the battle was already underway.

As Meade was considering withdrawing from the battle, he caught a lucky break. Alert intelligence operatives intercepted two vital pieces of information. First, he discovered the location of the Confederate troop deployments throughout the South. Second, he discovered that the South’s General Lee had no reinforcements for Gettysburg. Meade’s troops, including reserves, considerably outnumbered Lee’s. Meade kept up the pressure until the failure of Pickett’s Charge forced Lee to retreat.

In subsequent operations, General U.S. Grant and General Meade were paired together, in part because Lincoln did not totally trust Meade, despite his performance at Gettysburg. Grant was the superior officer but let Meade handle most operations as he saw fit.

Meade read an unfavorable article in the Philadelphia Inquirer and made the tactical error of lecturing the self-important journalist. That did it. A group of journalists got together and decided that if there were any setbacks, Meade’s name would be mentioned. Any successes and General Grant would be fully credited.

The conspiracy worked well enough to affect subsequent history. Grant became a star of the war and banked enough fame to be elected President. Meade’s later civilian career would be limited because disparagement overshadowed deserved fame.

The above is not meant to take anything away from either Grant or Meade. But the point is that mainstream journalists can have an effect out of all proportion to their importance, the little rats.

The rats are with us today. They will cover for Obama, make him look like a hero no matter what he does. That’s right. The unaccomplished product of Chicago machine politics doesn’t have the character of Meade, or Grant, or Lincoln … or Churchill, or Reagan for that matter … but the rats can make him appear to be greater than all of them. And many Americans will be gullible enough to buy it.

Oh, wait a minute, I did not intend to cast aspersions on rats.

Sources: PBS American Experience, The Assassination of President Lincoln; Armchair General magazine; Wikipedia article on General George Gordon Meade.

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