CHAPTER 21Unequal Media

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

—Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Currie, January 28, 1786

IN RESEARCHING THIS BOOK, I RAN ACROSS AN ASTONISHING PIECE OF WRITing from our nation’s early years. It’s a fitting prologue for this chapter. In May 1831, a young French aristocrat named Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in the young nation of the United States of America. He was here at a pivotal time in American history. In the “Revolution of 1800,” Thomas Jefferson had ousted John Adams’s minority Federalist Party (largely made up of what Jefferson called “the rich and the well born”) and shifted control of the government to the Jeffersonian Democrats. To de Tocqueville ...

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