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March 1914

Newspaper Morals
by Henry L. Mencken

Any reflective newspaper man … knows very well that a definite limit is set, not only upon the people’s capacity for grasping intellectual concepts, but also upon their capacity for grasping moral concepts …

In brief, he knows that it is hard for the plain people to think about a thing, but easy for them to feel …

One of the principal marks of an educated man … is the fact that he does not take his opinions from newspapers—not, at any rate, from the militant, crusading newspapers. On the contrary, his attitude toward them is almost always one of frank cynicism, with indifference as its mildest form and contempt as its commonest. He knows that they are constantly falling into false reasoning about the things within his personal knowledge,—that is, with the narrow circle of his special education,—and so he assumes that they make the same, or even worse errors about other things, whether intellectual or moral. This assumption, it may be said at once, is quite justified by the facts.

Vol. 113, No. 3, pp. 289–297

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