With President Donald Trump fantasizing about the U.S. making a bid to buy Greenland, CNN is reviewing the success – Louisiana Purchase – and failure – Alaska – of past U.S. land purchases.
Yes, you read that right.
Here is what CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza had to say about the big Alaska bust:
“One of the last times the United States bought land from a foreign country was in 1867, when Seward orchestrated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians for $7.2 million. It didn’t work out so well — and has gone down as ‘Seward’s Folly’ in the history books.”
Here’s a screenshot in case someone at CNN wakes up and decides to ghost edit (an all-too-common-practice in today’s journalism) this nonsense:
Cillizza termed the Louisiana Purchase the country’s “most famous land acquisition” and noted it now makes up a quarter of U.S. territory. It would make up a whole lot more than a quarter if not for the later purchase of Alaska, a landmass that today comprises almost 20 percent of U.S. territory.
Not to mention that about 60 percent of the land in the country’s National Park System is in Alaska. Or that there are those oil fields on the North Slope that helped put a fork in the idea Arab nations could dictate U.S. foreign policy by embargoing oil shipments and which at peak production in 1988 supplyied a quarter of all U.S. crude oil.
And then, of course, there was gold (in the days when the U.S. dollar was backed by the gold standard) and, of course, fish. Pollock caught in U.S. waters off Alaska coasts lead the state into position as the nation’s number one seafood producer.
All of this led Jesse Greenspan, writing at History.com, to observe, that although the Alaska Purchase was mocked at the time as Secretary of State William H. Seward’s folly, “the 1867 purchase of Alaska came to be regarded as a masterful deal.”
Many historians have reached the same conclusion. It’s the logical one based on the evidence.
You can Google up the history if you can spell Google.
How CNN could make the mistake of suggesting the $7.2 million purchase of Alaska “didn’t work out so well” is mind-boggling. The country could at this moment seize the Alaska Permanent Fund – the state’s oil-derived saving account today worth $66.3 billion – give the land mass back to Russia, and still claim a nice profit on its investment.
That’s $66.3 billion with a “B” versus $7.2 million with an “M.”
All one can guess here is that CNN – which has been in a war with Trump – is so overwhelmed by Trump Derangement Syndrome that when reporters and editors thee see “Alaska” they think “Sarah Palin,” the former Alaska governor who pioneered a path to the White House for Trump, and this triggers the belief “it didn’t work out so well.”
Update: Sometime after this story appeared, CNN edited its story and added a note saying “This story has been updated to correctly state the history of US land purchases.” The reference to the Alaska Purchase now says “it was heavily criticized at the time — and has gone down as “Seward’s Folly” in the history books.” That isn’t quite accurate either. The purchase has gone down in history as “far from folly,” though once ridiculed as such.