19th century reporters carried clubs and knives to defend themselves against murderous Congressjerks

Hey, who knew? The reporter-beating crazed thug (and now Congressjerk!) Greg Gianforte is part of a long and dishonorable tradition of American Congressional reps who lashed out at the press!

Rep. Waddy Thompson [SC], a Congressjerk with "an alarming physique" once threatened to kill the Congressional Globe's beat reporters Lund Washington Jr. and William W. Curran because he felt they weren't covering his speeches -- so they started coming to work with "a heavy bludgeon" and "a dagger or knife, sharpened especially for use, in case of necessity."

In the end, Old Waddy was brought to heel by the Congressional press gallery, who refused to publish anything he said until he apologized.

In 1848, John Nugent, a New York Herald reporter, was arrested by the sergeant at arms and held for a month in a Senate committee room after breaking a story about a secret treaty to end the Mexican-American War. Other than it being against his will, Nugent’s confinement wasn’t all that bad.

“Each evening he accompanied the sergeant at arms to that officer’s home for a good meal and a comfortable night’s sleep,” according to a Senate history.

The paper even doubled his salary. Nugent kept filing his columns daily back to New York. His dateline — “Custody of the Sergeant at Arms” — is one of the best in newspaper history and an early, instructive lesson in snark.

Greg Gianforte is lucky. Reporters once carried daggers to deal with unruly politicians. [Michael S. Rosenwald/Washington Post]

(via Super Punch)

Loading...