“What someone doesn’t want you to publish is journalism; all else is publicity.” That’s a quote by Paul Fussell from his essay, “A Power of Facing Unpleasant Facts.” It’s a clever way of putting it, but the truth nonetheless.
Nobody wants to see the truth in print if that truth doesn’t put a positive spin on his or her activities. The unvarnished truth is definitely a less than popular thing.
I pulled that quote out of a reference book I picked up awhile back. Titled, “Quotationary,” this is one of the handiest little things I’ve seen in years. Actually it’s not so little. In fact, it’s pretty doggone thick.
But more on the subject of journalism…
Walter Lippman said, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil.” That’s a bit extreme, but extremes are useful in making a point. Like it or not, the news coverage of Moral Monday protests in Raleigh is a good example of this.
On the other hand, Lippman said, “Journalism is the last refuge of the vaguely talented.” Ouch.
I would have to disagree with Lippman to this extent: Most of those on television purporting to be journalists are actually somewhat talented actors. When watching any news show or news channel, it’s helpful to remember that television is for entertainment. Those who want to be genuinely informed about the events of the day read newspapers.
Eleanor Roosevelt made a genuinely profound statement when she said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
One of my pet peeves is hearing someone say another person made them feel in some way negative about themselves. That only happens when we’re emotionally attached to another’s perceptions of us. Or worse, the way we think they perceive us.
As Mrs. Roosevelt indicated, we have to give our consent in order for someone’s outsides to affect our insides.
The happiest person in the world is the one who is oblivious to negativity.
Along those lines, William Hazlitt made this observation: “We are never so much disposed to quarrel with others as when we are dissatisfied with ourselves.”
When someone is being unpleasant, it’s usually not terribly difficult for me to let him or her own those emotions. Their nastiness likely doesn’t have one thing in the world to do with me. Maybe their dog had an accident on the expensive Oriental rug that morning.
“You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.” The great Bobby Jones said this upon penalizing himself one stroke in a national championship golf match. This stroke turned out to be the margin of his defeat.
Jones hit his ball in the woods and, unseen by anyone else, accidentally nudged it when preparing to take his next swing. Such was his integrity that he would sacrifice victory for it.
Jones, the consummate amateur in a sport dominated by professional golfers, made this comment after his competitors had congratulated him for his honesty.
If Jones were alive today, I wonder what he would say about baseball players, Olympic track stars and other athletes who use steroids and various performance enhancing drugs in order to achieve greatness. I wonder if he wouldn’t shake his head at the hollowness of all the records these athletes have set, the depths to which they have sunk in the pursuit of fame and wealth.
Speaking of those who are willing to do anything to get their way, I think I will close this column out with some quotes about politicians.
The first is from the great French military leader and statesman Charles de Gaulle, who wrote in a letter, “Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”
Anyone watching the theatre of the absurd in Washington, D.C., and Raleigh over the last couple of years would know exactly what de Gaulle meant.
The next quote—and one of my all-time favorites-- is from American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, apparently less than impressed with his state’s representation in the U.S. Senate. In his journal, he wrote, “Our senator was of that stuff that our best hope lay in his drunkenness, as that sometimes incapacitated him from doing mischief.”
The last is from H.L. Mencken, who said, “A good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”