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  • muckrake
  • audio pronunciation
  • \MUCK-rayk\
  • DEFINITION

verb

: to search out and publicly expose real or apparent misconduct of a prominent individual or business
  • EXAMPLES

Arn is an aggressive reporter, never afraid to ask difficult questions, hound evasive sources, or muckrake when things appear suspect.

  • DID YOU KNOW?

The noun “muckrake” (literally, a rake for “muck,” i.e., manure) rose out of the dung heap and into the realm of literary metaphor in 1684. That's when John Bunyan used it in Pilgrim's Progress to represent man's preoccupation with earthly things. “The Man with the Muckrake,” he wrote, “could look no way but downward.” In a 1906 speech, Teddy Roosevelt recalled Bunyan's words while railing against journalists he thought focused too much on exposing corruption in business and government. Roosevelt called them “the men with the muck-rakes” and implied that they needed to learn “when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward.” Investigative reporters weren't insulted; they adopted the term “muckraker” as a badge of honor. And soon English speakers were using the verb “muckrake” for the practice of exposing misconduct.

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