by JOHN CASHON
The muck was kicked up and it got on everything that the big leaders of industry of the day were trying to do to make more profit. The muckrakers had arrived.
It was a time, in the early twentieth century, when anything could be done to make a profit, at the expense of the workers and the consumers. Among some of the practices were farmers being charged unfair rates by the railroad industry to move their produce, packing industries that didn’t concern themselves with health and safety issues, and deplorable working conditions were being placed upon the workers at many factories, including the children that were also working as laborers.
At the same time, there were many local, state and federal elected leaders that were profiting by allying themselves with these industries, at the expense of the public.
It was writers, photographers and journalists that exposed these practices, and a form of the term muckraker was first used by Theodore Roosevelt, when he delivered his ‘The Man with the Muck-Rake‘ speech on April 15, 1906, in Washington, D.C.:
"In Pilgrim’s Progress the Man with the Muck Rake is set forth as the example of him whose vision is fixed on carnal instead of spiritual things. Yet he also typifies the man who in this life consistently refuses to see aught that is lofty, and fixes his eyes with solemn intentness only on that which is vile and debasing.
Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed."
While the original meaning of ‘muckrake’ was someone that raked for dung, it has become known today as someone that searches out and publicly exposes real or apparent misconduct of a prominent individual or business, but this kind of reporting has been playing second fiddle to the sensational 24/7 style of reporting being employed by the cable networks today. [MORE]