The Ghost of Spiro Agnew: How His Attacks on the Media Live On

spiro agnew's ghost

The Ghost of Spiro Agnew: How His Attacks on the Media Live On

In the corridors of history, the enigmatic specter of Spiro Agnew continues to cast an eerie shadow over our modern media landscape. Often invoked metaphorically as “Spiro Agnew’s ghost,” his infamous verbal salvos against the press resonate with a chilling relevance. With the epithet “nattering nabobs of negativism,” Agnew painted a portrait of biased journalists opposed to the Nixon administration. Yet, beyond his time, these calculated assaults have etched a lasting legacy. The atmosphere of suspicion and skepticism towards the media he cultivated endures a constant reminder of how his words continue to haunt the realm of public discourse.

The Ghost of Spiro Agnew

Vice President Spiro Agnew served from 1969 to 1973. After being charged with tax and bribery offenses, he announced his intention to leave office. Spiro died in 1996. There is no evidence that he has a ghost.

But the legacy of Agnew’s assaults on the media is frequently referred to as “Spiro Agnew’s ghost” in a symbolic sense. Agnew coined the term “nattering nabobs of negativism” to describe journalists he believed were biased against the Nixon administration. His attacks on the press helped create a distrust climate that still persists.

Agnew’s Attacks on the Media

In 1969, Agnew started criticizing the media shortly after becoming Vice President. In an address to the Young Republican National Convention, he charged that the press comprised “only privileged men” and was “engaged in a dangerous conspiracy to undermine American institutions.”

While serving as vice president, Agnew persisted in criticizing the media. In a speech to the National Press Club in 1970, he referred to the media as “nattering nabobs of negativism” and claimed they were “the most dangerous men in America.”

Journalists and other onlookers thoroughly denounced Agnew’s comments on the media. They argued that Agnew was trying to intimidate the media and stifle dissent.

The Legacy of Agnew’s Attacks

Agnew’s condemnation of news media left an enduring impact. They played a part in extending suspicion among the press and the government.

On the right, as much as the left, politicians have abused this mistrust. They have borrowed Agnew’s language to criticize the media and defend their actions to impede the flow of information.

Probably the most contemporary case concerns the Trump administration’s assault on the press. Trump asserts that the media is unreliable as they frequently propagate misinformation.

Trump’s bashing of the media has rendered journalism more challenging to accomplish. Many journalists have been reluctant to cover Trump’s administration for fear of being attacked or dismissed.

The Future of the Media

The long-term viability of the media remains in dispute. The widespread adoption of social networking sites gives people numerous possibilities for getting news, thereby rendering it difficult for traditional journalism to preserve its hegemony.

It has gotten more complex for the press to conduct its job when politicians like Trump criticize it.

How the media will eventually be able to navigate their way beyond these obstacles continues to be up for discussion. But it’s crucial to remember that democracy relies enormously on the press. Holding the government responsible and educating the public about significant topics are the primary responsibilities of media outlets.

The Rise and Fall of Spiro Agnew’s Ghost

Agnew’s ghost gained a spectral life, symbolizing resistance against perceived media bias. Yet, as his tenure unraveled amidst allegations of bribery and corruption, the ghostly image lost some of its potency. Agnew’s resignation marked the fall from his once-lofty position, a dramatic reminder of the consequences of unchecked power.

However, while Agnew faded from the political stage, his ghostly legacy endured. The distrust he sowed manifested in subsequent generations, becoming an enduring undercurrent in the relationship between the government, media, and the public. The phrase “Spiro Agnew’s ghost” became a shorthand for questioning media narratives and suspecting hidden agendas.

Yet, with time, the ghost’s influence waned. Journalism evolved, and new generations of media consumers sought transparency and authenticity. The scene shifted further by the emergence of digital media, which muddled the distinctions between established sources and new platforms. The ghost’s ability to influence public opinion slowly waned as the twenty-first century progressed.


The phrase “Spiro Agnew’s ghost” is a reminder of the lasting impact of his attacks on the media. These assaults influenced the development of the current climate of mistrust. For the sake of press freedom, it is crucial to keep this legacy in mind.


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