Walter Lippmann

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Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889–December 14, 1974), was an influential United States writer, journalist, and political commentator.


"It does not matter whether the right to govern is hereditary or obtained with the consent of the governed. A State is absolute in the sense which I have in mind when it claims the right to a monopoly of all the force within the community, to make war, to make peace, to conscript life, to tax, to establish and dis-establish property, to define crime, to punish disobedience, to control education, to supervise the family, to regulate personal habits, and to censor opinions. The modern State claims all of these powers, and, in the matter of theory, there is no real difference in the size of the claim between communists, fascists, and democrats." - A Preface to Morals, quoted in Nisbet, The Quest for Community, p. 102.


  • A long life in journalism convinced me many presidents ago that there should be a large air space between a journalist and the head of a state.
  • A free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a great society. Without criticism and reliable and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern. For there is no adequate way in which it can keep itself informed about what the people of the country are thinking and doing and wanting.
  • In the end, advertising rests upon the fact that consumers are a fickle and ….superstitious mob, incapable of any real judgment as to what it wants or how it is to ….get what it thinks it likes.
  • It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf. A Preface to Morals, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, 1929, p. 324.
  • So far as I am concerned I have no doctrinaire belief in free speech. In the interest of the war it is necessary to sacrifice some of it.
  • The facts we see depend on where we are placed and the habits of our eyes.
  • The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.
  • The news and the truth are not the same thing.
  • The newspaper is in all its literalness the bible of democracy, the book out of which a people determines its conduct.
    • quoted by Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times, Saturday, October 7, 2006
  • The press does not tell us what to think, it tells us what to think about.
  • There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means to detect lies.
  • When everyone thinks the same, nobody is thinking.
  • Industry is a better horse to ride than genius.

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