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Wednesday, July 27, 2016 03:44 pm

Why Mencken matters

 Paula Marantz Cohen of Drexel University hold argues in the online magazine The Smart Set why long-dead writer/critic/commentator H.L. Mencken remains as relevant as ever. She recalls HLM on the influence of the press. Substitute "media" for "newspaper." .

In America it is the newspaper that is [its reader’s] boss. From it he gets support for his elemental illusions. In it he sees a visible embodiment of his own wisdom and consequence. Out of it he draws fuel for his simple moral passion, his congenital suspicion of heresy, his dread of the unknown. And behind the newspaper stands the plutocracy, ignorant, unimaginative and timorous.

Long-time readers will remember that my first column in Illinois Times, which ran from 1978 until 1994, was titled Prejudices, the title under which the master collected his own pieces.  

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