Surrealpolitik: The Press and Public Opinion

Author: Walter Lippmann

Political Science Quarterly (1931)

Quick Summary

Lippmann's 1931 thoughts on the increasingly complex job of journalism.


There are 3 quotes currently associated with this book.

The constant temptation is to forsake the standards to achieve the result, and thus to suppress the dissenter when he becomes annoying, to ignore the opposing argument when to answer it would be embarrassing, to distort the basis of public discussion by the shrewd manipulation of the evidence, or by ambiguous generalities, or by appeals to prejudice, to hatred, and to fear, to destroy the opponent, to get him by fair means or foul. These temptations have to be constantly resisted: men cannot fight effectively for justice with unjust weapons, they cannot fight for tolerance without sympathy, they cannot fight for liberty by using the weapons of tyranny. For if they do, they may win their skirmishes, but they will lose the war. (page 167)
Tags: [Media]
If we ask ourselves, then, what it is that we are certain of in our national life, what it is that we are surest of, what it is that we can defend with the clearest conscience, with the least hesitation and doubt, I do not think we can name a single concrete policy or principle...However passionately we may believe what we believe, in moments of cool candor and honesty with ourselves we cannot really believe that the whole truth has been revealed to them or to us. There must remain in all specific convictions a residue of skepticism. If it does not we have learned little from human
experience. (page 167)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Media]
What then can we adhere to, since in our world we cannot be sure we have attained the truth? We can adhere, I believe, to the ways in which men have found the truth and to the spirit in which they have sought it...We are explorers in a strange world, and what we must depend upon is not a map of the country -- for there is no map -- but upon those qualities of mind and heart and those distillations of experience which men have learned to depend upon when they faced the unknown...[T]he only sure foundation of action is truth that experience will verify, and the great concern of the liberal spirit with human freedom rests at last upon the conviction that at almost any cost men must keep open the channels of understanding and preserve unclouded, lucid, and serene their receptiveness of truth. This concern with human freedom is not only a matter of resisting encroachment upon civil liberties. It is a matter of personal honor, of seeking always in a spirit- searching self-examination to confront the facts with a mind and with a heart that have no hidden entanglement...The liberal spirit is the effort, not of any cult, or sect, or party, but of any man or woman, to remain clear and free of his irrational, his unexamined, his unacknowledged prejudgments, so that he may the more effectively make his little contribution "to the search and expectation of greatest and exactest things." (page 168-170)
Tags: [Activism, Truth & Real, Propaganda, Media, Gaslighting]