'Rock Heads' Ran Newspaper That Panned 'Gettysburg Address' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

'Rock Heads' Ran Newspaper That Panned 'Gettysburg Address'

The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., has gotten attention around the nation this week for retracting an editorial that ran in 1863.

It's not just that the retraction came 150 years later. No, the Patriot-News is being talked and written about because the editorial it now regrets was one that panned President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

That's right, in November 1863 the anti-Lincoln Patriot & Union (as the newspaper was then known) wrote about those who had spoken 5 days before at the ceremony on Gettysburg's battlefield. Of Lincoln's speech it said:

"We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of."

As All Things Considered host Audie Cornish says, "the Patriot & Union failed to recognize the speech's momentous importance, timeless eloquence and lasting significance."

But 150 years later, the newspaper believes that "no mere utterance, then or now, could do justice to the soaring heights of language Mr. Lincoln reached that day."

Friday, the newspaper's deputy opinion editor, Matthew Zencey, addressed an interesting question: why now? He tells Sydney Smith of iMediaEthics that:

"I hope you are taking our 'retraction' in the spirit we intended, which was to have a little fun with a less-than-stellar chapter of our newspaper's history. ... Really, this isn't a question of journalism ethics, as would be the case with a serious retraction — it was more a way of using the 150th anniversary to say, with a wink, 'Gee, can you believe what rock heads ran this outfit 150 years ago?' "

If you haven't read Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in a while, here's a link.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Wexford Carols Brings Irish Holiday Relics To Life

A new Christmas music collection resurrects Irish carols from the 17th century. NPR's Scott Simon talks to singer Caitriona O'Leary and producer Joe Henry about songs both sacred and political.
NPR

Antarctic Holiday: A Christmas Feast In The Loneliest Spot On Earth

For Dr. Gavin Francis, Christmas Eve marked the start of a year-long stay in an icy research base 8,700 miles from home. In this "empire of ice and isolation," he says, food is essential to morale.
NPR

'Rum, Rumba, And Romance': A Book On Cuba's Enduring Mystique

This week, President Obama announced that he will begin to normalize relations with Cuba. Cuban-American writer Richard Blanco recommends a book about Cuba's imprint on the American imagination.
NPR

Obama: Sony Should Have Talked To Him Before Pulling 'The Interview'

The FBI has concluded North Korea was responsible for the cyber attack on Sony Pictures. NPR's Scott Simon talks with White House correspondent Scott Horsley about what happens now.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.