May 16, 2019

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”


“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
        H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
        American journalist, essayist, satirist and scholar of American English
        The famous “quote” above is the commonly-used paraphrase of what Mencken wrote in his column in the September 19, 1926 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune. In that column, he was remarking on the recent trend toward “tabloid newspapers” that were geared toward uneducated readers, which Mencken described as “near-illiterates.”
        What Mencken actually wrote was in that column was:
        “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.”
        For more background on this traditionally misquoted quotation, see the post on my This Day in Quotes site at this link.


“No one ever went broke underestimating the ability of Congress to do its job.”
        Tanya Snyder
        Columnist for
        In a column about the government shutdown caused by Congress’ inability to agree on federal budget legislation, published by on January 22, 2018.


“Maybe no one ever did go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people, and perhaps there is a sucker born every minute, but don’t we want a president who at least thinks those are open-ended questions?”
        Joyce Kulhawik
        American arts and entertainment critic and blogger
        Commenting in an April 28th, 2011 post on her blog on rumors that Donald Trump might run for president.


“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the nincompoopery of New York’s city council. Now along comes Upper West Side member Helen Rosenthal to crank up the stupid, declaring her appreciation of the vandalism last week of a statue depicting the globally famous photo of a U.S. sailor kissing a dental technician in Times Square to mark the end of the Second World War. ‘I appreciate someone recognizing that a random man grabbing a random woman is completely inappropriate,’ said Rosenthal—having a #MeToo moment as she prepares to run for city comptroller.”
        Bob McManus
        Former editorial page editor of the New York Post now working as a freelance editor, columnist, and writer
        In a February 28, 2019 editorial posted on the website of the City Journal, a quarterly magazine of urban affairs published by the Manhattan Institute. McManus was referring to the statue based on the famed photo of a nurse kissing a sailor who had just returned home after serving in World War II. In February 19 some overly woke idiot spray-painted the anti-sexual harassment hashtag #METOO on the statue.


“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
        American journalist, critic and author
        In her review of the book Manning Up by Kay S. Hymowit, published in the Boston Globe on March 18, 2011.


“No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the average American television viewer.”
        The Editors of the motorcycle news site
        An editorial comment in a review of the Discovery Channel TV series American Chopper.


“No one ever went broke underestimating the willingness of the public to bump uglies in unlikely combinations.”
        The Editors of The Guardian newspaper
        In a short news story about the 3nder online app, which connects people who want arrange “threesome” sexual encounters with other people.


“No one ever went broke underestimating the American public’s hunger to buy, buy, buy. How else can you explain things like Etsy, subscription boxes and the Apple Watch? Often the product seemed like such a good idea at the time...Generally, though, such things get used once or twice and then end up at Goodwill.”
        Donna Freedman
        American freelancer writer and book author
        In an article published on January 20, 2019 on the website.

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