Walter Lippmann

Walter Lippmann
Walter Lippmann
  • Born: September 23, 1889
  • Died: December 14, 1974
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Journalist

110

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80

Citations

257

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Walter Lippmann was an American writer, reporter, and political commentator famous for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War, coining the term "stereotype" in the modern psychological meaning, and critiquing media and democracy in his newspaper column and several books, most notably his 1922 book Public Opinion. Lippmann was also a notable author for the Council on Foreign Relations, until he had an affair with the editor Hamilton Fish Armstrong's wife, which led to a falling out between the two men. Lippmann also played a notable role in Woodrow Wilson's post-World War I board of inquiry, as its research director. His views regarding the role of journalism in a democracy were contrasted with the contemporaneous writings of John Dewey in what has been retrospectively named the Lippmann-Dewey debate. Lippmann won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his syndicated newspaper column "Today and Tomorrow" and one for his 1961 interview of Nikita Khrushchev.

Quotes About
Author Quote
Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
... nobody's constitutional rights include the right to reside and do business on a battlefield. There is plenty of room elsewhere for him to exercise his rights. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
[Visual images are] the surest way of conveying an idea. A leader or an interest can make itself master of current symbols to master the current situation. Public Relations & Image
[Woodrow Wilson] could state a principle better than the expert from whom he had borrowed it. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
A community has not ceased to be essentially law-abiding merely because it refuses to practice literal obedience. There is such a thing as orderly disobedience to a statute, a disobedience which is open, frankly avowed, and in conformity with the general sense of what is reasonable Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
A country survives its legislation. That truth should not comfort the conservative nor depress the radical. For it means that public policy can enlarge its scope and increase its audacity, can try big experiments without trembling too much over the result. This nation could enter upon the most radical experiments and could afford to fail in them. Policy & Policy Making
A country survives its legislation. That truth should not comfort the conservative nor depress the radical. For it means that public policy can enlarge its scope and increase its audacity, can try big experiments without trembling too much. . . Legislating & Legislative Process
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. Life ;Media, Journalism & The Press
A man has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so. Human Nature
A mature and great power will make measured and limited use of its power. Power
A ruthless partisan [who] does not have within his conscience those scruples which the country has a right to expect from the President of the United States. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Acting upon everybody for 30 minutes in 24 hours, the press is asked to create a mystical force called Public Opinion that will take up the slack in public institutions. The press has often mistakenly pretended that it could do just that. Public Opinion & Polling
An alliance is like a chain. It is not made stronger by adding weak links to it. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Any policy is bound to fail which deliberately violates our pledges and our principles, our treaties and our laws …. The American conscience is a reality. It will make us hesitant and ineffectual, even if it does not prevent an un-American policy. Policy & Policy Making
Beer would be a great help in fighting off the mental depression which afflicts great multitudes. Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs
Brains, you know, are suspect in the Republican Party. Political Parties & Machines
By a kind of Gresham's law the more rational is overcome by the less rational, and the opinions that will prevail will be those which are held most ardently by those with the most passionate will. For that reason the freedom to speak can never be maintained merely by objecting to interference with the liberty of the press, of printing, of broadcasting, of the screen. It can be maintained only by promoting debate. Freedom & Liberty
Certainly he [Richard M. Nixon] is not of the generation that regards honesty as the best policy. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Democracy is much too important to be left to public opinion. Public Opinion & Polling
Fight labor's demands to the last ditch and there will come a time when it seizes the whole of power, makes itself sovereign and takes what it used to ask. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Fotball strategy does not originate in a scrimmage. It is useless to expect solutions in a political campaign. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to he President. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Franklin, you may have to assume dictatorial powers. Management & Managing Government ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
He has not a good enough grasp of issues nor the power of quick and firm decision to withstand the withering fire which the Republicans would subject him to. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
I am afraid that Franklin D. Roosevelt has not thoroughly matured. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
If the national government falls into the hands of sufficiently unprincipled men, they can do terrible things before any one can stop them. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
In a democracy, the opposition is not only tolerated … but must be maintained as indispensable. Democracies & Republics
In a free society the state does not administer the affairs of men. It administers justice among men who conduct their own affairs. Society ;Justice & Injustice
In government offices which are sensitive to the vehemence and passion of mass sentiment public men have no sure tenure. They are in effect perpetual office seekers, always on trial for their political lives, always required to court their restless constituents. Government ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
In government offices which are sensitive to the vehemence and passion of mass sentiment, public men have no sure tenure. They are in effect perpetual office seekers always on trial for their political lives. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
In really hard times the rules of the game are altered. The inchoate mass begins to stir. It becomes potent, and when it strikes, . . . it strikes with incredible emphasis. Those are the rare occasions when a national will emerges from the scattered, specialized, or indifferent blocs of voters who ordinarily elect the politicians. Those are for good or evil the great occasions in a nation's history. Miscellaneous
In the absence of debate unrestricted utterance leads to the degradation of opinion .... The more rational is overcome by the less rational, and the opinions that will prevail will be those that are held most ardently by those with the most passionate will. For that reason the freedom to speak can never be maintained merely by objecting to interference with the liberty of the press, of printing, of broadcasting, of the screen. It can be maintained only by promoting debate. Miscellaneous
In the light of this monstrous crime we can see that in a free country, which we are and intend to be, unrestrained speech and thought are inherently subversive. Democracy can be made to work only when the bonds of the community are inviolate, and stronger than all parties and factions and interest and sects. Democracies & Republics
In time of war what is said on the enemy's side of the front is always propaganda and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and a crusade for peace. Public Relations & Image
International debts are like bills submitted to pay for the damage done on a wild party by one's grandfather. The payment seems to the debtor like pure loss, and when it is paid by one nation to another it seems the tribute by the conquered to the conqueror. Budgets & Budgeting
It is just as important to define the limit beyond which we will not intervene as it is to convince our people that we cannot find security in an isolationist party. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
It is not possible to assume that a world carried on by division of labor and authority, can be governed by universal opinions in the whole population. Public Opinion & Polling
It is perfectly true that that government is best which governs least. It is equally true that that government is best which provides most. Government ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Music, Chants & Rapps
Leadership is preserving the nation's ideals. Leaders & Leadership
Many a public figure has come to imitate the journalism which describes him. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Mass opinion has acquired mounting power in this century. It has shown itself to be a dangerous master of decisions when the stakes are life and death. Public Opinion & Polling
Most men, after a little freedom, have preferred authority with the consoling assurances and the economy of effort it brings. Freedom & Liberty
Mr. [Calvin] Coolidge's genius for inactivity is developed to a very high point. It is far from being an indolent activity. It is a grim, determined, alert inactivity which keeps Mr. Coolidge occupied constantly. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
No amount of charters, direct primaries, or short ballots will make a democracy out of an illiterate people. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
No official yet born on this earth is wise enough or generous enough to separate good ideas from bad ideas, good beliefs from bad. Bureaucracy
Once you touch the biographies of human beings, the notion that political beliefs are logically determined collapses like a pricked balloon. Human Nature
Private property was the original source of freedom. It still is its main bulwark. Freedom & Liberty
Propaganda is that branch of lying which often deceives your friends without ever deceiving your enemies. Public Relations & Image
Success makes men rigid and they tend to exalt stability over all other virtues. Liberals & Conservatives
Successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies. Democracies & Republics
The best servants of the people, like the best valets, must whisper unpleasant truths in the master's ear. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The central drama of our age is how the Western nations and the Asian peoples are to find a tolerable basis of co-existence. Miscellaneous
The consent of the governed" is more than a safeguard against ignorant tyrants: it is an insurance against benevolent despots as well. Democracies & Republics
The Founding Fathers did not foresee the party system as it has developed, and what they knew about its early beginnings the disliked intensely. Political Parties & Machines
The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully. Leaders & Leadership
The great social adventure of America is no longer the conquest of the wilderness but the absorption of fifty different peoples. Immigration & Emigration
The history of diplomacy is the history of relations among rival powers which did not enjoy political intimacy and did not respond to appeals to common purposes. Nevertheless, ... to think that rival and unfriendly powers cannot be brought to a settlement is to forget what diplomacy is about. Diplomacy & Diplomats
The isolationists were the party of neutrality and pacifism [during the yeara before American Entry into WWI.] War & Peace ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The most demeaning experience any country ever had to bear. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The news and truth are not the same thing. Media, Journalism & The Press
The newspaper is in all its literalness the bible of democracy, the book out of which a people determines its conduct Media, Journalism & The Press
The only dependable foundation of personal liberty is the personal economic security of private property. Freedom & Liberty
The opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters. Political Parties & Machines
The politician says: "I will give you what you want." The statesman says: "What you think you want is this. What it is possible for you to get is that. What you really want, therefore, is the following. Diplomacy & Diplomats
The public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd. Democracies & Republics
The public must be put in its place...so that each of us can live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd. Public Opinion & Polling
The simple opposition between the people and big business has disappeared because the people themselves have become so deeply involved in big business. Business, Commerce & Finance
The system of stereotypes may be the core of our personal tradition, the defenses of our position in society…They may not be a complete picture of the world, but they are a picture of a possible world to which we are adapted. In that world people and things have their well-known places, and do certain expected things. Discrimination & Prejudice
The tendency of the casual mind is to pick out or stumble upon a sample which supports or defies its prejudices, and then to make it representative of a whole class. Discrimination & Prejudice
The world state is inherent in the United Nations as an oak tree is in an acorn. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
This [nullification] is a normal and traditional American method of circumventing the inflexibility of the Constitution. When the Constitution has come into conflict with the living needs of the nation, and when amendment was impossible, the method of changing the Constitution has been to change it and then get the very human Supreme Court to sanction it. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
Undertaking to explain our foreign policy in terms of our public opinion is to explain one mystery in terms of another. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
We have changed our environment more quickly than we have learned how to change ourselves. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
We have not found a way to give Congress control without depriving the President of essential power. Intergovernmental Relations
We must protect the right of our opponents to speak, because we must hear what they have to say. Freedom & Liberty
When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. Media, Journalism & The Press
When philosophers try to be politicians they generally cease to be philosophers. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Where all think alike, none thinks very much. Public Opinion & Polling
Without criticism and reliable and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern. Media, Journalism & The Press
Ages when custom is unsettled are necessarily ages of prophecy. The moralist cannot teach what is revealed; he must reveal what can be taught. He has to seek insight rather than to preach.
Ideals are an imaginative understanding of that which is desirable in that which is possible.
Industry is a better horse to ride than genius.
Many a time I have wanted to stop talking and find out what I really believed. Time
Men who are orthodox when they are young are in danger of being middle-aged all their lives.
Only the consciousness of a purpose that is mightier than any man and worthy of all men can fortify and inspirit and compose the souls of men.
Our conscience is not the vessel of eternal verities. It grows with our social life, and a new social condition means a radical change in conscience. Life
People that are orthodox when they are young are in danger of being middle-aged all their lives.
Private property was the original source of freedom. It still is its main ballpark. Freedom & Liberty
Social movements are at once the symptoms and the instruments of progress. Ignore them and statesmanship is irrelevant; fail to use them and it is weak.
Success makes men rigid and they tend to exalt stability over all the other virtues; tired of the effort of willing they become fanatics about conservatism. Success
The best servants of the people, like the best valets, must whisper unpleasant truths in the master's ear. It is the court fool, not the foolish courtier, whom the king can least afford to lose.
The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on. Business, Commerce & Finance
The first principle of a civilized state is that the power is legitimate only when it is under contract. Power
The opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opposition than from his fervent supporters.
The private citizen, beset by partisan appeals for the loan of his Public Opinion, will soon see, perhaps, that these appeals are not a compliment to his intelligence, but an imposition on his good nature and an insult to his sense of evidence. Nature
The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief... that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The study of error is not only in the highest degree prophylactic, but it serves as a stimulating introduction to the study of truth. Truth
The tendency of the casual mind is to pick out or stumble upon a sample which supports or defies its prejudices, and then to make it the representative of a whole class.
The time has come to stop beating our heads against stone walls under the illusion that we have been appointed policeman to the human race. Time
There is no arguing with the pretenders to a divine knowledge and to a divine mission. They are possessed with the sin of pride, they have yielded to the perennial temptation. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
There is nothing so good for the human soul as the discovery that there are ancient and flourishing civilized societies which have somehow managed to exist for many centuries and are still in being though they have had no help from the traveler in solving their problems.
Unless the reformer can invent something which substitutes attractive virtues for attractive vices, he will fail.
We are all captives of the picture in our head - our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists.
We are quite rich enough to defend ourselves, whatever the cost. We must now learn that we are quite rich enough to educate ourselves as we need to be educated.
What we call a democratic society might be defined for certain purposes as one in which the majority is always prepared to put down a revolutionary minority. Society
When all men think alike, no one thinks very much.
When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute. Truth
When men can no longer be theists, they must, if they are civilized, become humanists.
Where all men think alike, no one thinks very much.