March 10, 2014

Things you won’t go broke underestimating...


THE COMMON MISQUOTE (AND WHAT MENCKEN ACTUALLY SAID):

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” 
       A famous quip
commonly attributed to journalist and editor H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
       Although these words are often credited to Mencken, they are actually a paraphrase of something he wrote in his column in the September 19, 1926 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune. In it, he remarked on the recent upsurge in tabloid newspapers geared toward uneducated readers, including “near-illiterates.” Mencken correctly predicted that journalism of the future would “move in the direction” of the tabloids.
He noted, with his usual dry sense of humor: 
       “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
       Over time, this longer quote came to be paraphrased and misquoted, most commonly in the form “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” For more background, see
the post about this saying on my ThisDayinQuotes.com site.


THE ROB FORD APPLICATION:

“No one has ever gone broke underestimating the capacity of Toronto mayor Rob Ford to shock the ostensibly unshockable.”
       Rick Conroy
       Canadian journalist 
       In his column in The Wellington Times (Ontario, Canada), January 17, 2014
       My own favorite Rob Ford shocker came during remarks he made to the press on November 14, 2013, while explaining why he filed a libel suit against some of former staff members. One female staffer, Olivia Gondek, claimed Ford told her he wanted to perform oral sex on her. Regarding her, Ford said: Olivia Gondek...says that I wanted to eat her pussy...I’ve never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I’m happily married. I’ve got more than enough to eat at home.”


A FEMINIST’S VARIATION:
 

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the maturity of the American male. On the contrary, as the films of Judd Apatow and magazines like Maxim make clear, immaturity among 20- and 30-something guys is a reliable cash source.” 
       Kate Tuttle 
      
Freelance journalist and editor
      
In a review published by the Boston Globe, March 18, 2011


A FOOTBALL FAN’S VARIATION:

“To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, you’ll never go wrong underestimating the intelligence of those trying to reach a new collective-bargaining agreement...Now the principals are exchanging insults on Twitter. Management is taking cheap shots at the players, and the players are responding in kind, each group blaming the other, as if the blame isn’t equal.”
       Sports journalist
Art Spander
       Commenting on the ongoing collective bargaining deadlock between the National Football League team owners and players,
in his column on the Real Clear Sports website, March 10, 2011. (Cartoon by Daryl Cagle.)


THE A.D.D. VARIA... UH… WHAT WAS I TYPING?:

“No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the attention span of the American people.” 
       Editorial by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 9, 2010


A LIBERAL JOURNALIST’S OPINION OF CERTAIN REPUBLICANS:

“Bachmann, Sharron Angle, Sarah Palin and others have turned the GOP into an international joke and brought amazement at the support and enthusiasm they generate. Legendary journalist H.L. Mencken once said nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer. The same could be said of the American voters who actually cast their ballots for these folks.”
       Doug Thompson
       Publisher and founder of the website CapitolHillBlue.com
       In
a post on his website titled “The GOP’s invasion of the Intelligence-snatchers”


A LIBERAL ACTIVIST’S OPINION OF A CERTAIN DEMOCRAT:

“No one ever went broke underestimating how low a politician will go to gain an advantage. Exhibit A: Vice President Joseph Biden, who likens Wikileaks honcho Julian Assange to a ‘high-tech terrorist.’”
      
Gabor Rona
       International Legal Director for the Human Rights First organization
       In
a post on the group’s website regarding a comment Biden made about Assange on Meet the Press on December 19, 2010

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Further reading: by and about H.L. Mencken...

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