Sherman’s Media Mindset or The Reporter’s Rue

sherman chattanoogaSherman’s Media Mindset or the Reporter’s Rue, was exemplified in General Sherman’s vocal disdain for the embedded war correspondents that attempted to document his campaigns during the Civil War. Sherman knew, only too well, that as long as these ferrets frequented his headquarters, no movement or clandestine operation could be kept under wraps, thus imperiling his opportunity to deal the enemy a crippling and crushing defeat. Several of his most pointed Media descriptions are included here;

“I think I know what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers.” 

“If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.”

“I hate newspaper men. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are.”

“In our Country . . . one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out.”

“Newspaper correspondents with an army, as a rule, are mischievous. They are the world’s gossips, pick up and retail the camp scandal, and gradually drift to the headquarters of some general, who finds it easier to make reputation at home than with his own corps or division. They are also tempted to prophesy events and state facts which, to an enemy, reveal a purpose in time to guard against it. Moreover, they are always bound to see facts colored by the partisan or political character of their own patrons, and thus bring army officers into the political controversies of the day, which are always mischievous and wrong. Yet, so greedy are the people at large for war news, that it is doubtful whether any army commander can exclude all reporters, without bringing down on himself a clamor that may imperil his own safety. Time and moderation must bring a just solution to this modern difficulty.”

Sherman’s Media Mindset, was more tactless than other field commanders during the Civil War. General Sherman had no political aspirations, his only vision was to crush the rebellion as quickly and decisively as possible.

“I hereby state, and mean all that I say, that I never have been and never will be a candidate for President; that if nominated by either party, I should peremptorily decline; and even if unanimously elected I should decline to serve.” 


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