Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Walter Lippmann on editors

Since the war [WWI], especially, editors have come to believe that their highest duty is not to report but to instruct, not to print news but to save civilization, not to publish what Benjamin Harris calls “the Circumstances of Publique Affairs, both abroad and at home,” but to keep the nation on the straight and narrow path. Like the Kings of England, they have elected themselves Defenders of the Faith. “For five years,” says Mr. Cobb of the New York World, “there has been no free play of public opinion in the world. Confronted by the inexorable necessities of war, governments conscripted public opinion. . . . They goose-stepped it. They taught it to stand at attention and salute. . . . It sometimes seems that after the armistice was signed, millions of Americans must have taken a vow that they would never again do any thinking for themselves. They were willing to die for their country, but not willing to think for it.” That minority, which is proudly prepared to think for it, and not only prepared, but cocksure that it alone knows how to think for it, has adopted the theory that the public should know what is good for it.

--From (Liberty and the News, 1920)

No comments: