Muckraker is a somewhat pejorative term for an investigative reporter: Someone who digs up dirt or rakes muck. It is associated with a period of crusading American journalism—called muckraking—during the first dozen years of the 20th century, although the phrase can also be used to refer to investigative reporting in general.

Origin of the Term

President Theodore Roosevelt first coined the word muckraker in a speech on March 17, 1906. Roosevelt was angered by a recent political exposé published by his enemy William Randolph Hearst in Cosmopolitan magazine. In an address to the Washington Gridiron Club, Roosevelt complained about a dangerous new breed of the journalist whose inflammatory writings were sweeping America. “The man with the Muck-rake,” Roosevelt said derisively, “the man who could look no way ...

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