Dying journalism #634



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, 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. 



Categories: Media, News

Tagged as: , ,

29 replies »

  1. Too funny. If t makes you feel better and non-partisan, look up the Fox News anchor after last year’s big quake excitedly exclaiming “Minnesota dr! I know that road! It takes you to the Aleutians!”

  2. No mention of Alaska’s strategic location for the various military bases………………….

  3. What is funny, as God is my witness, today I was speaking to a man who is a scientist. We were talking about a hunt for Sika he took. Someone said you must have eaten good. Whatever that meant. He said and I quote “there are no salmon left. The heat has killed them all.”. I said there might be a conflict with the Pinks and as far as the heat goes, it is just el Nino. He said “I know about el Nino but, Alaska had 40 straight days of heat records”. I said, tell me when 40 days turns to 1,000 years. Then you will have a leg to stand on. Have a nice day.
    People are just plain batchit crazy. Mentally unstable.

      • Must be James, must be. Guess we can add that to the rest of the talking point names I am called on a daily basis – super white supremacist (whatever that is), racist, bigot, priviledged, Nazi, etc.

  4. Using an inflation calculator (link below): “ $7,200,000 in 1867 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $124,818,324.32 in 2019.”

    So in other words, the amount that Governor Dunleavey originally proposed for reducing the UA budget ($134M)… it could have bought the entire state of Alaska in 1867 (in 2019 dollars). So it’s it’s interesting that our state university system’s operating budget is over twice the inflation-adjusted amount it cost to purchase the state itself. What do these numbers mean? Well, either buying Alaska was a really good deal, or our UA system is a really bad deal. Or maybe it’s some of both.

  5. A teacher asked his students to share what their dads did for a living. Little Johnny said “My dad’s a stripper at a gay night club and he turns tricks in the alley to earn extra money.”

    After class the teacher pulled him aside and asked “Johnny, is it really true that your dad is a gay stripper?”

    Little Johnny said “No, he’s a journalist from CNN, but I was too embarrassed to say that.”

  6. Craig,

    The update to the update is fantastic, let’s face it we are an outpost and nothing but Palinburg to most of these folks, we live in igloos among the polar bears. If any of them know who Seward was I would be surprised, do they even know who Kennedy was and what he stood for? There is no perspective today, and I say that as a younger member of gen x…whatever that means.

  7. One thing that most people today can agree on regardless of their political viewpoint: news organizations are mostly crap.

  8. Actually I listened to it live and i think he said Alaska worked out well. There are those who think it didn’t.

    • well, if he said it “worked out well live,” that certainly didn’t get into the online story. and even now, having been corrected, it is wrong, ie. the Alaska Purchase “was heavily criticized at the time — and has gone down as “Seward’s Folly” in the history books.” That isn’t accurate either. The purchase has gone down in history as “far from folly,” though once ridiculed as such.

      anyone who thinks the purchase didn’t work out well is simply some sort of idiot. from a simple national security perspective, thinking of what craziness the Cold War would have been with Russia still occupying Alaska.

    • Craig you falsely quoted something CNN did not say.

      The actual text in the article says “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 was heavily criticized at the time — and has gone down as “Seward’s Folly” in the history books.” which is a true statement and contained no personal spin or opinion.

      At no point in the actual article does the CNN editor say (as you “quoted”): “It didn’t work out so well”.

      So, doesn’t that make you the hack and not CNN?

      • Chris: maybe you should read to the bottom of the CNN story where it now says “corrected.” the original version is as in the screengrab included in the story posted here. the correction came sometime after this story went up.

        don’t bother to apologize.

      • LOL, Chris you just got schooled by Craig. Now take off your graduation cap and gown. We’re going to need to have you repeat the fifth grade.

      • Which history books? Given there are almost countless tomes of history, it seems you may want to seek a tally on which stuck with folly and which switched to far from folly. Irregardless, the later would be the more accurate historical account.

  9. CNN isn’t news or staffed by Journalists. It is full of entertainers and political hack. That is why their viewers numbers about 10. The sooner they pit a stake in the heart this phony “Journalism” the better. I can hear their death throws now and that is a good thing. Good riddance anti-American Commie losers. CNN stooges Fredo, Lemon, or this pillar of “Free Speech”:

    • Bryan,
      You Said:
      “CNN isn’t news or staffed by Journalists.”
      Well I know U think corporate media on the right is all prim and proper but I fail to see a Pulitzer prize journalist at Fox news?
      Guys like Pete Hegseth are AFP puppets pushing the “divide and conquer” agenda on prime time.
      As for Hegseth…
      “He is a former reserve military officer and former executive director of the political advocacy groups Vets For Freedom and Concerned Veterans for America.
      The latter is a conservative advocacy group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, which advocates for greater privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).”
      I do not see any journalism degrees in his education?

      • Just because the Koch brothers donate to various causes doesn’t mean they are the sole funding for any cause to which they donate. That’s a ludicrous assumption you would be making. And why couldn’t the Koch brothers donate to a cause of their choosing? It’s legal. It’s charitable. It’s Just as tax deductible for them as it would be for you.

        And Pete Hegseth, while “only a reserve military officer”, has been deployed to war zones like active military officers. In fact, by definition he was active when he was deployed. He’s seen war and the consequences of bad politics and governance first hand. Have you?

        Why is it “okay” for those on the left side of the isle to donate to advocacy groups they believe in, but not ok for those of us on the right to do so? And isn’t this America? Should Fox News not be allowed to “spin” the news the way they wish or believe without some sort of knock against their character or reputation? Of course they are bent to the republican or right side, but their the only ones. And frankly they have been more accurate in reporting actual facts than any other news source. I personally am a fan of OAN myself, but hey I’ll take Fox if it’s a choice between CNN and nothing else. Why should the other half or more of America be subject to leftist lies 24/7, 365, just because you don’t like the ONE major news outlet that doesn’t blare democrat or socialist party line?

        This all seems weird a little bit…

      • You’ll never see a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from Fox. First the Pulitzer goes to propagandists, not journalists, second, it really is only a mutual validation society for a bunch of semi-literate lefties. Likewise, you’ll never see a Nobel Peach Prize go to a conservative, because a conservative might actually do something rather than merely prattle mindlessly about hope ‘n change.

      • Nathan,
        I believe U missed my initial point above that says:
        “The fact that corporate-media employees are vehemently defending corporate media is illustrative of the dynamic.”
        I am not advocating for CNN over FOX (I watch neither, nor do I consider the banter of these two sources as “journalism”)
        As for the Koch brothers (fake Libertarianism) that promotes “Political Capitalism” throughout America…much of their power is coming from the Citizens United case that allows unlimited contributions to “alt right” candidates of their backing…this is a problem for Patriots on both sides of the political spectrum and for “non-partisans” in what was once “the middle”.

        The real concern is the rapid consolidation of ALL media sites and channels down to 90 percent controlled by only 6 corporations.
        “That’s consolidated from 50 companies back in 1983.”
        This is moving closer to “State” run channels like many authoritarian nations…
        “But the fact that a few companies own everything demonstrates “the illusion of choice,” Frugal Dad says.
        While some big sites, like Digg and Reddit aren’t owned by any of the corporations, Time Warner owns news sites read by millions of Americans every year.”

      • Steve,

        I appreciate the evolution you’ve gone through on these pages, it wasn’t long ago you had no idea what libertarian values are and you were frequently citing the propaganda of authoritarian state run news organizations like TeleSur. Information is a valuable tool, and when a person betters their self by acknowledging they did not have or know the correct information and they then seek out and become informed it should be celebrated

      • Well, Steve you couldn’t resist the tired lefty memes about the Koch Bros. and CU. The Koch Bros. aren’t even top 20 in political contributors and most of the top 20 are leftist special interests and unions. The reason the Left is so butt-hurt about CU is that CU broke up the Left’s virtual monopoly on political contributions under the former schemes of leftist passed campaign limits. Show me a supporter of campaign contribution limits and I’ll show you a leftist authoritarian.

      • Damn Art, you said it very nicely.. A simple paragraph should be enough for Steve Stine to understand CU. Bravo!

      • Show me a person that believes a business is a person and I’ll show a right wing nut job – like doddering Arty – who never misses an opportunity to display his wattles.

      • Art,
        “Just 15 groups were responsible for more than 75 percent of dark money political spending from 2010 to 2016, and together poured more than $600 million—out of a total of $800+ million—into campaigns in the wake of the landmark Citizens United case…

        The third highest spender was the right-wing billionaire Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.”

        I consider myself “non-partisan” but do not like where we are headed after Citizens United…
        “A network of like-minded donors organized by the Kochs pledged to spend $889 million from 2009–2016 and its infrastructure has been said by Politico to rival “that of the Republican National Committee.”

        There is no coincidence that AFP is heavily involved with the current administration and the “track” they are headed…
        “Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a ‘kingpin of climate science denial.’ The report purported to show that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outspent ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups”

    • I am sick of hearing about commies.
      In actuality there is no “real” or “true” communist state, currently in any country today.
      China, Russia, N Korea, Vietnam are all ruled by dictators, that use a quasi socialist/capitalistic governing method.
      Israel is supposedly democratic, though B. Netanyahu is a dictator in his own right.

      On a side note, Vietnam has become one of our largest SE Asia trading partners. They farm prawns, tilapia & catfish, which the US imports by the tons.
      I agree we have many people in our country, that are liberal leftists, just like we have many that are right wing conservatives, and many people in the middle.
      We also do have many socialists leaning legislators, newspapers, journalists etc.
      So what?
      Corporate capitalism actually rules this country. Look at our involvement in Afghanistan, billions of taxpayer dollars to US military industry, thousands of young American men and women dead. For what reason? when we finally leave, the country will revert back to what it was, 19 years ago. What a waste!
      In a true capitalistic style economic government, social security, medicare, medicaid and the snap program, would not be allowed.
      How would you classify the PFD? The AK residents earned that money? What a load of BS. That is socialist program to the core!
      Better get used to ANS below $60 per barrel for a long time. The world is awash in oil and natural gas. Yes, open up ANWR, though the Fed will get the highest % of royalties. I say extract has much oil, gold, copper, fish, timber and any other raw resources Alaska has. Use it all up. Then the carpet baggers and free loaders will all leave.

      • Um Jame’s, I hope you will think of the Clinton’s, Obama’s and Democrats in general when you read this:
        “Marxism–Leninism follows the ideas of orthodox Marxism and Leninism as interpreted by Vladimir Lenin’s successor Joseph Stalin. It seeks to organise a vanguard party, as advocated by Marx, and to lead a proletarian uprising, to assume state power on behalf of the proletariat and to construct a single-party “socialist state” representing a dictatorship of the proletariat, governed through the process of democratic centralism, which Lenin described as “diversity in discussion, unity in action”. Marxism–Leninism forms the official ideology of the ruling parties of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam, and was the official ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from the late 1920’s, and later of the other ruling parties making up the Eastern Bloc.”

Leave a Reply