Media

Governments Love a Media Cartel—As Long as They're in Control

Friday A/V Club: Some people are against concentrated media power. Some just want to bend it to their will.

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In 1969, one of the country's most controversial speakers delivered a fiery attack on the mass media. "For millions of Americans," he declared, the three TV networks "are the sole source of national and world news." Thanks to "a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government," a "small group of men, numbering perhaps no more than a dozen anchormen, commentators, and executive producers, settle upon the 20 minutes or so of film and commentary that's to reach the public." This represented "a concentration of power over American public opinion unknown in history." And the people who wielded that power were concentrated in two cities—New York and Washington—where they "draw their political and social views from the same sources. Worse, they talk constantly to one another, thereby providing artificial reinforcement to their shared viewpoints."

It sounds like a radical critique of the power elite. But the speaker wasn't Noam Chomsky or Stokely Carmichael. He was Vice President Spiro Agnew, reading a script largely composed by a young writer named Pat Buchanan. And Agnew wasn't trying to end that government-licensed monopoly power. He was trying to bend it to his own ends.

Agnew had opened his speech with a rather different complaint: He didn't like the way the networks had covered a recent presidential address. Not content merely to air Richard Nixon's remarks on Vietnam, they had followed his words with commentary by a panel of news analysts, some of whom had been pretty critical. The vice president acknowledged that "every American has a right to disagree with the president of the United States and to express publicly that disagreement," and then he offered a "but": "But the president of the United States has a right to communicate directly with the people who elected him, and the people of this country have the right to make up their own minds and form their own opinions about a presidential address without having the president's words and thoughts characterized through the prejudices of hostile critics before they can even be digested." Apparently, the problem with concentrating TV power in the hands of a small group of men is that they might not refrain from airing additional views after handing the president the microphone.

"Advocates for the networks have claimed a First Amendment right to the same unlimited freedoms held by the great newspapers of America," Agnew added. "But the situations are not identical. Where The New York Times reaches 800,000 people, NBC reaches 20 times that number on its evening news. Nor can the tremendous impact of seeing television film and hearing commentary be compared with reading the printed page." Besides, "we are not going to cut off our television sets and listen to the phonograph just because the airways belong to the networks. They don't. They belong to the people."

In that context, Agnew's comment that the networks' power was "licensed by government" sounded less like a social critique and more like an implicit threat. The goal wasn't to break up the opinion cartel; the goal was to make it play ball. The speech signaled the White House's willingness to use the regulatory apparatus as a pressure point, and the network bosses received the message. CBS soon suspended its practice of airing analysis after presidential addresses.

More than half a century has passed since then, and the media landscape looks very different now than it did in 1969. But it's not hard to hear echoes of the old days when critics accuse social media sites of acting as arms of the state. For several years, they point out, officials have been pressuring platforms to suppress different sorts of speech, most recently when the administration urged Facebook and company to clamp down on posts that stray too far from the COVID consensus. And the biggest tech companies, like the TV networks, benefit from all sorts of government interventions, some of them overt subsidies, some of them tucked away in obscure corners of laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. State and corporate power have been entwined for generations, and that didn't stop when they started assembling transistors in Silicon Valley.

Now, there's room to debate how much these things are true. A defender of the industry might point to various non-governmental reasons that prompt platforms to moderate their users' speech, or might argue that these companies would dominate the tech sector even without those interventions. But I don't want to get bogged down in those debates here. There clearly is at least some truth to the critique, and it's worth asking how to deal with the issue—especially when some have been suggesting federal intervention as a remedy.

To them, I point to the lessons of Agnew. Beware politicians who borrow just enough from your radical critique of the corporate state to bend a power structure to their own ends.

At the height of the three-network era, there was a clear-cut, direct, and undeniable relationship between the government's rules and the types of speech that were allowed. If you wanted to broadcast a radio or video signal to the public, you needed a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the number of licenses was artificially capped. This was a nice sweetheart deal for the incumbent broadcasters, who faced far less competition than the technology of the day would have allowed. It also gave a lot of leverage to the government, which could force broadcasters to include or exclude various sorts of programming if they wanted to keep those licenses. Some of these demands were explicitly written into the law, but officials could also apply pressure in informal ways. When done in public, this was called "regulation by raised eyebrow."

Sometimes there's little doubt that a network programming decision was made with the government's preferences in mind. Hence CBS's compliance when Agnew complained about those post-speech panels—or, even more abjectly, the time the White House pressured NBC into airing a half-hour prime-time special about Nixon's daughter's wedding. Other times the record is ambiguous. In 1969, CBS canceled The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour over some of the tamest political satire you can imagine. A lot of factors were at play there, and it is possible that this would have happened even without the looming presence of the FCC. But even then, it was undeniably the FCC's fault that there were only three networks where a national show like The Smothers Brothers could air, with cable largely locked out.

When the networks cleared away such speech because they were worried about regulatory hassles, were they acting as arms of the state? More or less, yes. Close enough for quasi-government work. But what was the best policy response to that?

One approach would be to try to mandate that the networks be politically neutral—the analog-age counterpart to some of the suggestions floating around in the digital era. (In 2019, for example, Sen. Josh Hawley introduced the "Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act," which the Missouri Republican said would "bring transparency and accountability to [platforms'] editorial processes and prove that they don't discriminate.") We don't have to guess what this would have looked like in practice, because a policy like this existed at the time. It was called the Fairness Doctrine, and its effect was to make censorship more common, not less.

The Fairness Doctrine gave the FCC the power to punish broadcasters for being insufficiently balanced, and officials regularly used it to hassle TV and radio broadcasters who criticized them. It was one of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations' chief weapons for pushing right-wing radio critics off the air. The abuse didn't stop when the other party took the White House: Republicans regularly filed Fairness Doctrine challenges against broadcasters whose reporting angered the Nixon White House. (Agnew surely approved: His speech included a quote from Red Lion, the Supreme Court decision that declared the doctrine constitutional.) State and local officials used the regulation as a club too. Even when no one was actually invoking the rule, risk-averse broadcasters worried about the ways it could be used against them. And so, while there were occasions when the Fairness Doctrine let people get a dissident perspective onto the airwaves, the overall effect was to make stations wary about airing controversial political opinions of any kind.

Those results should not be surprising. The opinion cartel existed for two big reasons: the number of licensed broadcasters was artificially restricted, and it was too easy for the government to put pressure on its licensees. The Fairness Doctrine did nothing to solve the first problem, and it made the second one worse: Now officials had yet another pressure point at their disposal.

So what's the better option, if trying to mandate neutrality doesn't work? Well, if the problems are (1) government pressure and (2) corporations being shielded from competition, it's best to remove those pressure points and foster more competition. We know that private self-censorship is less powerful when those public pressure points are missing, because we can compare how such systems played out in different regulatory environments. In the 1950s, after the Senate held hearings on comic books' supposed role in fostering juvenile delinquency, the industry adopted a content code; but the federal government didn't have much legal leverage over the publishers, given the First Amendment, so in the '60s indie companies could simply ignore the Comics Code and its strictures. The Motion Picture Production Code was more powerful than that, because it was imposed at a time when the Supreme Court said the First Amendment did not protect movies, thus putting more teeth in the threat of federal regulation; the Court reversed itself on movie censorship in 1952, and the Code started to lose its grip at about the same time. And analog-era television, which labored under the tightest government controls, also imposed the most stringent self-censorship systems. But after some of those regulations were eased in the '80s, the networks' standards-and-practices departments were pared back as well.

As for how to foster more competition, that's a subject best left for another article. I'll just note that it's better to adjust the basic rules of the road—say, whether independent developers have the legal right to make tools that interact with a platform without that platform's permission—rather than to take an approach that might undermine your first goal of eliminating pressure points. Anything that can be selectively enforced runs the risk of reinforcing rather than undermining the system. After all, Nixon was also adept at taking laws that were supposed to promote competition and transforming them into weapons. In one conversation captured on the Watergate tapes, aide Chuck Colson told the president that a pending antitrust suit was "one hell of a club on an economic issue that means a great deal to those three networks…something of a sword of Damocles." Nixon replied: "We don't give a goddamn about the economic gain. Our game here is solely political."

Call it Agnew's Law. Some people who complain about concentrated power don't give a goddamn about actually ending it. They just want to change who that power serves.

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  1. Agnew used to live a few blocks away but I was a toddler then…

    There are currently many news outlets. But now government seems to just want to control the social media ones under the guise of stopping misinformation. But it is really that they just want to control the message, no matter how much misinformation is included in that.

  2. In 1969, you had 3 TV conglomerates to chose from. Now we have 1.7 billion or so web sites ( see https://websitesetup.org/news/how-many-websites-are-there/#:~:text=It's%20estimated%20that%20over%201.7,world%20contribute%20with%20online%20interactions. )

    If anyone with an internet connection wants to access the lies of Der TrumpfenFuhrer or Der BidenFuhrer, they can do so! DESPITE all of the monkeyshines of power-hungry politicians, PLUS the power-hungry likes of MarxistMammaryBahnFuhrer and MarxistJesseBahnFuhrer!!!

    In 2136 I predict than anyone who wants one or more cyborg brain implants, will have “telepathic” links to instantly communicate with any others, likewise equipped. And MarxistMammaryBahnFuhrer and MarxistJesseBahnFuhrer will STILL be crying for Government-Almighty-provided control of your information flow!!!

    1. It’s like part of this article is a direct rebuke of Sqrlsy’s claim that government almighty isn’t censor people using social media platforms, and if they were it’s okay.

      “critics accuse social media sites of acting as arms of the state. For several years, they point out, officials have been pressuring platforms to suppress different sorts of speech, most recently when the administration urged Facebook and company to clamp down on posts that stray too far from the COVID consensus. And the biggest tech companies, like the TV networks, benefit from all sorts of government interventions, some of them overt subsidies,

      1. One might suspect it’s because he agrees with the people doing it, so he defends the indefensible.

        1. MarxistMammaryBahnFuhrer and Macless Cheesy Wonder imagine that Section 230 can be torn down, PURELY for the benefit of conservaturds! Liberals would NEVER put ANY clauses into the replacement of Section 230, preventing the hurting of Sacred Baby Feelings! NEVER!

          Hidden in their so-called “thinking” is lusting after a 1-party dictatorshit… Liberals won’t put in “Don’t Hurt My Precious Baby Feelings” clauses… Because liberals will be outlawed!

          Why don’t you statist power pigs name me ONE lousy 1-party state, that EVER provided long-term peace and prosperity? Just ONE?

    2. I predict that your prediction will be as accurate as the ClimAstrologists’ prdictions.

  3. Reason headline
    “Governments Love a Media Cartel—As Long as They’re in Control”
    Correction
    “Democrats Love a Media Cartel—As Long as They’re in Control”

    There. Fixed it.

    1. Hey Bill… Read Overt’s comment right below… Quoting strong-arming by Spiro Agnew (from the article above). Question for ya: Spiro Agnew, team “D” or team “R”? (Google it if you don’t know).

      1. Is Spiro Agnew still alive and angrily censoring millions of people who disagree with his Covid narrative?
        Did Spiro Agnew even actually succeed in censoring even one person? The Democrats have been successfully censoring millions.

        1. MarxistMammaryBahnFuhrer, please broadcast under YOUR usual posting name, that the Section 230 laws are GREAT, for protecting private property rights, and preventing “Party A” from being punished for the writings of “Party B”! Post that in YOUR name!

          If you won’t do that, you are CENSORING me, and denying me my “inalienable right to free speech”!!! By YOU using the Good Samaritan clause!!! You are taking away my RIGHTS, you evil corporatist, just as YOU want to take away the RIGHTS of FaceBooooo, etc., to control what all crap, to include lies, that they enable others to spread!!!

        2. Yeah I grew up in the 3 network world and Agnew was not wrong. Not to say that political censorship didn’t exist. But really nothing like the blatant censorship we are witnessing today. The nattering nabobs are unapologetic mouthpieces for the leftists ruling class and openly admit it.

      2. I too like to pretend it’s over 50 years ago if it supports my narrative.

        1. Read the above article, Mac and Cheeseburger! Team R members yesterday, Team R members today, threaten to “sic” Government Almighty on you, if you do not OBEY!

          From above… (Sen. Josh Hawley is Team “R”, nitwit!)

          One approach would be to try to mandate that the networks be politically neutral—the analog-age counterpart to some of the suggestions floating around in the digital era. (In 2019, for example, Sen. Josh Hawley introduced the “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act,” which the Missouri Republican said would “bring transparency and accountability to [platforms’] editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate.”) We don’t have to guess what this would have looked like in practice, because a policy like this existed at the time. It was called the Fairness Doctrine, and its effect was to make censorship more common, not less.

        2. I like to pretend that I haven’t said that both sides always get it wrong so that I can that I can say both sides had it wrong over 50 yrs. ago, that both sides had it right 25 yrs. ago (despite my saying ‘both sides’ about the specific legislation at the time), and that they have it wrong now so that I can pretend that I’m so principled as to be entirely above partisan politics.

  4. “In that context, Agnew’s comment that the networks’ power was “licensed by government” sounded less like a social critique and more like an implicit threat. The goal wasn’t to break up the opinion cartel; the goal was to make it play ball. The speech signaled the White House’s willingness to use the regulatory apparatus as a pressure point, and the network bosses received the message. CBS soon suspended its practice of airing analysis after presidential addresses.”

    The Hell you say!? You mean an implicit threat from the government could…actually be enough to force a private company to take action on the government’s behalf? Mon deux!

    1. That’s why we need to keep Section 230! And someone, somewhere, simply needs to RESIST the Government Almighty pressures (i.e., disobey), get “standing” to sue, and take Government Almighty to court, to get Section 230 enforced as it is written!

      BTW, thank you for posting this link a while back. I have repeatedly re-posted it.

      Section 230 …
      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200531/23325444617/hello-youve-been-referred-here-because-youre-wrong-about-section-230-communications-decency-act.shtml
      (Posted by Overt)

      1. Section 230’s Good Samaritan clause is the whole reason government is getting away with it, you weasely, censorious fuck. And you know it.

        1. Hey MarxistMammaryBahnFuhrer… Name me ONE person with an internet connection, who can NOT access the lies of Der TrumpfenFuhrer or Der BidenFuhrer!

          What are ye bitchin’ about, bitch?

          THIS is censorshit! Learn the definition!

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rose

          (Your bitching “censorshit” is like crying “genocide” when someone accidentally bumps your fat butt in a crowd).

      2. No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected

        the property owners (the web site owners) should decide!

        “Website owners = property owners” – SQRLSY One

        Meanwhile…

        The company attributed this change to pressure from banks and payment processors. “These changes are to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers,” its statement said. Asked to elaborate, a spokesperson for OnlyFans told me “the platform has no further comments at this time.”

        There’s no doubt that OnlyFans is screwing over the very users who helped make it successful. But how much culpability the company has and how much anger it deserves are up for debate, since OnlyFans may be a victim in this too.

        Free Speech defended! You can thank SQRLSY One and his full-throated, good faith defense of property owners.

        1. Government Almighty pushes folks around by threatening to amend or revoke or disobey Section 230. Solution? Tear down Section 230, and give Government Almighty MORE power!

          Government Almighty pushes folks around by threatening to amend or revoke or disobey anti-murder laws. Solution? Tear down anti-murder laws, and give Government Almighty MORE power!

          WTF, people, what is WRONG with your thinkers?!?!

          1. Government Almighty pushes folks around by threatening to amend or revoke or disobey Section 230. Solution? Tear down Section 230, and give Government Almighty MORE power!

            Government Almighty pushes folks around by threatening to amend or revoke or disobey anti-murder laws. Solution? Tear down anti-murder laws, and give Government Almighty MORE power!

            “Speech = murder” – SQRLSY One

            1. Government Almighty can be trusted to “fix” the problems caused by Government Almighty’s unwillingness to honor and obey simple laws, by making MORE COMPLICATED laws! THEN the foxes can be trusted to guard the chickens! – mad.casual

              1. “Repealing existing laws = making more complicated laws” – SQRLSY One

  5. This is a fantastic article, that I hope people take off their partisan glasses before reading.

    The problems of Big Tech Censorship are largely driven by the government, but the root problem is other laws like Sarbanes Oxley and financial reform that concentrate corporate power and allow these companies to dominate the industry.

    And yes, there is a technological solution to this.

    1. Amongst other things, it reminds me that Agnew had some great young writers.

      I’m not necessarily a fan of either, but Buchanon and Saffire (Nattering Nabobs of Negativism) both cut their teeth there. Both were excellent writers.

      And partisan glasses really blur the topic. Democrats may have a lock on mainstream media and academia now, but nobody who clamors for power will NOT use the media if they can get its ear. The concentration of corporate power you mention is exactly what OBL lampoons here on a daily basis, and it’s “funny” because it’s true.

  6. There clearly is at least some truth to the critique, and it’s worth asking how to deal with the issue—especially when some have been suggesting federal intervention as a remedy.

    Federal intervention as a remedy for…federal intervention?

    Sounds like a great idea! With the best of intentions. What could possibly go wrong?

  7. In memorializing Agnew’s relationship with the media, how could you not mention ‘nattering nabobs of negativism’ and ‘hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history’?

    1. Because he was (R)?

  8. Mr Walker’s call for a decentralized web is spot on.

    Big Government loves nothing better than Big Corp, because small diverse actors are difficult to track down and regulate, while big companies make “cooperation” easier. Is it no wonder that relentless regulation in the finance sector and telecom sector have left us with a few massive players standing atop massive barriers to entry?

    The software industry once had similar barriers to entry. To topple Microsoft, one needed massive teams of engineers focusing on OS, productivity tools, and other key technologies. The Open Source movement cracked this nut. This was the decentralization of software development.

    Today the web still suffers the same centralization problem. Serving a world class website requires prohibitively large amounts of capital (though increasingly it is spent as opex, not capex) to power your services. This has created an easy space of control for the government. Parler was easily deplatformed by relying on these centralized points of control. I worked for a tech company that evaluated doing Search and we just couldn’t justify the 1 Billion dollars a year necessary to index the web- not to advertise, not to page rank, not to develop value-add services- just a billion dollars in compute resources to crawl the web make a local copy and index the results.

    However we already have nascent technologies that can topple this central control. p2p networking (a la BItTorrent) allows consumers to share storage and compute resources that far outstrip what Amazon can muster. The Interplanetary File Storage system (IPFS) is an example here. And Block Chain technology (a la etherium and bitcoin) can orchestrate these activities in a trustless manner.

    Rewriting section 230 so that Google is beholden to whichever democrat is in power will not stop censorship- it will cement it. To truly win this war, you need to DESTROY google. A fully decentralized search index- shared between our browsers using a p2p network; where advertisers don’t pay Sergy and Larry, but you and I in return for using our compute and storage to scrape and store the search index; where thousands of developers can apply their own ranking and query engines against that public index- that is how you break the strangle hold.

    1. “Rewriting section 230 so that Google is beholden to whichever democrat is in power will not stop censorship- it will cement it.”

      Overt, excellent, thank you!

      Sad to say, the likes of JesseAZ and Mother’s Lament can’t see or think straight… In their minds democrat power is illegitimate and therefor non-existent. Government Almighty = = REPUBLICAN Government Almighty! So therefor any replacement to Section 230 will favor THEIR interests! NEVER the interests of their “enemies”!

      Restated, they believe democrats are evil and are censoring us right now… So the solution is to kill Section 230, and give Government Almighty MORE power, which will ALWAYS work for CONSERVATIVE interests!

      Go figure!

      1. “Antitrust is bad, but what’s needed is to decentralize the internet to undermine Google’s authority/power” – SQRLSY One

    2. Rewriting section 230 so that Google is beholden to whichever democrat is in power will not stop censorship- it will cement it.

      Don’t rewrite it, repeal it. It’s an overt re-write of the 1A that makes it acceptable to censor the material Congress approves of needing censored:

      No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected

      Without Section 230, and relying solely on the 1st Amendment, you still open up basically the entire internet to nuisance suits. Section 230 helps get cases dismissed early, whereas using the 1st Amendment would require lengthy and costly litigation. 230 does rely strongly on the 1st Amendment, but it provides a procedural advantage in getting vexatious, frivolous nuisance lawsuits shut down much faster than they would be otherwise.

      The only way it could be more blatant is if it said “This law lets us, by proxy, circumvent the due process involved in the 1A so that we can get rid of undesireable content.”

      1. What problem are you solving? Ever hear of “the cure is worse than the disease”? A bullet to my brain will prevent ALL my future sufferings, right?

        Name me ONE person with an internet connection, who can NOT access the lies of Der TrumpfenFuhrer or Der BidenFuhrer!

        1. What problem is S230 solving? As your cite indicates, it’s a rather expedient and indiscriminate bullet to avoid a more protracted treatment.

          Name me ONE person who can’t turn on the computer without getting obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable material and, more importantly, for which the website providers are responsible?

          Weird how someone who transcends partisanship can’t comprehend that there are more sides than just ‘Der TrumpfenFuhrer or Der BidenFuhrer’.

          1. “Name me ONE person who can’t turn on the computer without getting obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable material and, more importantly, for which the website providers are responsible?”

            ALL of the people who do not actively SEEK these things, can avoid them, by going ONLY to trusted web sites! Which are ALLOWED to take down obscene (etc.) posts, under S230! Under post-S230 idiocy, all obscene posts won’t be taken down without consulting endless armies of lawyers, and then, obscenity filters will hence block almost all (all?) web sites! OR, posting forums will go extinct!

            S230 ALSO prevents the obvious injustice of punishing “Party A” for the writings of “Party B”! Do YOU want to be punished for MY writings? (We need an “S230” for print media as well, frankly).

            1. S230 ALSO prevents the obvious injustice of punishing “Party A” for the writings of “Party B”!

              Unless “Party A” is Congress, a Bank, a Payment Processor, a wily district attorney, or an underhanded county sheriff… and pretty much anyone except the users or content providers Party B fucked over.

              But “Website owners = property owners” – SQRLSY One

      2. “It’s an overt re-write of the 1A that makes it acceptable to censor the material Congress approves of needing censored:”

        It is not an Overt re-write- I didn’t write it at all. (har har)

        Seriously though, it doesn’t rewrite the 1st amendment, it compliments the 1st Amendment by ensuring that every single lawsuit that would EVENTUALLY be tossed on 1A grounds can be dismissed out of hand. This is a good thing because it prevents nuisance suits. (and if you don’t think the left or right could weaponize nuisance suits to stifle speech, you are crazy).

        1. Seriously though, it doesn’t rewrite the 1st amendment, it compliments the 1st Amendment by ensuring that every single lawsuit that would EVENTUALLY be tossed on 1A grounds can be dismissed out of hand. This is a good thing because it prevents nuisance suits. (and if you don’t think the left or right could weaponize nuisance suits to stifle speech, you are crazy).

          You’re literally saying it circumvents the 1A.

          The CDC’s eviction moratorium doesn’t re-write the 3A, it compliments the 3A. This is a good thing becuase it prevents nuisance suits.

          And again, it assumes every suit is a nuisance suit a priori.
          And again, it assumes the above disparately against citizens and in favor of nuisance (or even maliscious) suits from TOP MEN.
          And again, it does so specifically for social media and not McDonald’s or Joe’s Plumbing.

          It’s well past the point of gaslighting.

          Answer me this, the internet was decentralized, how do you intend to re-decentralize the internet to undermine Google in a manner that doesn’t effectively amount to antitrust? Moreover, how does such a proposition amount to anything different than just ‘build your own internet (and cellular network and banking network)’?

  9. Fun Fact: Spiro Agnew is an anagram of Grow a Penis.

    Thanks, Dave Barry.

    1. I miss Dave Barry!!!

      Now tell us some Dave Barry booger jokes! (Please?)

        1. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/9102/boogers-are-my-beat-by-dave-barry/

          Boogers Are My Beat
          MORE LIES, BUT SOME ACTUAL JOURNALISM!
          By DAVE BARRY

          (See cover pic; kinda neat).

    2. I haven’t read Dave Barry in a long time, but I loved his stuff when I was a kid.

      In fact, a couple of neighbor dogs got out, one black, 50-60 lbs, another a black and white jack russel, and I immediately referred to them as a Dog and and Emergency Backup Dog.

  10. Was this his “nattering nabobs of negativism” speech? I always liked that phrase, and “nabob” is pretty obvious both from context and the sound alone. Otherwise, Agnew was just another corrupt politician, distinguished mainly by his corruption coming out in the open.

    1. That was a different speech, and it wasn’t actually about the press.

      1. Thanks for the link. I actually vaguely remember the coverage at the time. Have always believed he was talking about the press. Not that it matters much.

    2. Nothing but dingers and nabobs everywhere these days.

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