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"Fake News!": Newspapers and George Washington's Second Presidential Administration

By Lynn Price, Assistant Editor

The cry of "fake news" has become ubiquitous in the United States today, particularly with regard to politics. When a news story paints a negative view of a politician, a partisan belief, or a proposed law, the public's response now often involves attacks on the press. However, the use of the press to spread misleading or outright false information, usually about a political opponent, is nothing new. George Washington experienced attacks by Democratic-Republican newspapers in attempts to destroy his character, discredit his administration, and promote opposing viewpoints. And it was up to the reader to determine what truth, if any, lurked beneath partisan criticisms—or outright penned assaults.

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