"The relationship of a journalist to a politician should be that of a dog to a lamppost” is a witty statement that is frequently credited to American journalist and critic H. L. Mencken (1880-1956). However, there is no evidence that Mencken ever said it. “Having read H. L. Mencken’s opinion that the correct relationship of a journalist to a politician was that of a dog to a lamppost” was cited in print in 1990.
“His disdain that of the dog for the lamp-post — which is how he describes the perfect relationship between the journalist and the politician” was said in 1987 about Vincent Hanna (1939-1997), a Northern Irish television journalist. Hanna’s authorship of the saying is probably more likely. The saying is frequently quoted in the United Kingdom, but has been seldom used in the United States.
Wikipedia: H. L. Mencken
Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, critic of American life and culture, and scholar of American English. Known as the “Sage of Baltimore”, he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the twentieth century. Many of his books remain in print.
Wikipedia: Vincent Hanna
Vincent Leo Martin Hanna (9 August 1939 – 22 July 1997) was a Northern Irish television journalist famed for his coverage of United Kingdom by-elections.
Work for the BBC
In 1973, he was recruited by the BBC Current Affairs department to work on the television series Panorama. According to those who worked with him, he was extremely nervous when starting out, but he managed to master the medium. His greatest fame came from his BBC Newsnight coverage of by-elections from 1980 onward. His first campaign was spent doggedly pursuing candidates with difficult questions. Very few escaped unscathed. At Darlington in March 1983, Hanna’s broadcasts helped to destroy the campaign of SDP candidate Tony Cook, who had been the early favourite to win.
... his disdain that of the dog for the lamp-post — which is how he describes the perfect relationship between the journalist and the politician.
Friends in High Places:
Who Runs Britain?
By Jeremy Paxman
London: Michael Joseph
Having read H. L. Mencken’s opinion that the correct relationship of a journalist to a politician was that of a dog to a lamppost, there was really only one career open to me, and it is a trade I have pursued since the mid-seventies, in one form or another.
Images of Power:
How the Image Makers Shape Our Leaders
By Brendan Bruce
London: Kogan Page
Outsiders should understand that most politicians, although they put a brave face on it, are extremely thin-skinned and privately think that all journalists are professional ‘shits’ (their word, not mine) and, deep down, most journalists agree with H L Mencken that their relationship to a politician should be that of dog to lamp-post.
A Guide to Issues
By John Wilson
New York, NY: Routledge
The attitude is summed up in the comment ‘The proper relationship between a journalist and a politician is the same as the relationship between a dog and a lamp-post.’
Volume 126, Issues 4328-434
His view of the relationship of interviewer to politician has been likened to that of dog to lamp-post.
Google Groups: uk.media
RIP Vincent Hanna
I have to agree, an untimely death indeed. I always think the best quote attributed to the man is that in an interview “a politician should be treated as a dog treats a lamp-post”. Honourable words indeed!
Travelling Scot: Scotus Viator:
Essays on the history, politics and future of the Scots
By Christopher Harvie
Glendaruel: Argyll Pub.
The relation of the journalist to the politician,’ the late Vincent Hanna wrote, ‘should be that of the dog to the lamp post.’ The Scottish public tend to agree with him.
The Observer (UK)
France turns the tables
Le pop culture
Saturday 28 April 2001
At which point the French government got involved - an inconceivably strange notion to the Anglo-American music business whose relationship to the state is, to steal a phrase from HL Mencken, that of a dog to a lamppost.
Volume 131, Issues 4603-4610
Stott has taken the title of his book from H L Mencken’s remark that the proper relationship between a journalist and a politician should be the same as that of a dog to a lamp-post.
The Mammoth Book of Comic Quotes
By Geoff Tibballs
Journalism is to politician as dog is to lamp-post.
H. L. MENCKEN
Journalism quote of the day: ‘The correct position of a journalist to a politician is that of a dog to a lamp post.’ Mencken
3:06 AM - 6 Oct 2010
Dover Express (UK)
Port needs a speedy resolution
By Dover Express | Posted: December 16, 2011
Lobbyists have been around in one form or another for centuries. It’s in the nature of politics to attract these creatures. It is rather like how the political hack is drawn to the politician as a dog is to a lamp post, to paraphrase the great BBC man Vincent Hanna.
June 18, 2012
Don’t Mess With The Press
By PACO NUNEZ
“The relationship of a journalist to a politician should be that of a dog to a lamp-post.”
H L Mencken (1880-1956)
Revenge of the lamppost against dog of journalism
FRASER NELSON MARCH 28, 2013 12:00AM
HL Mencken said journalist was to politician as dog was to lamppost. This week has been about the revenge of the lamppost.
Transcript of The Observer Effect 16 June 2013
ELLEN FANNING: H.L. Mencken, the Christopher Hitchens of his day, was once asked about the correct relationship between a journalist and a politician and he replied, “It should properly be that of a dog to a lamppost.” Journalists tend to be outsiders, a tribe apart from those they report on, but Ray Martin is an insider, a believer.
The Spectator (UK)
Vultures are circling Britain’s free press. Again.
4 October 2013 11:54
Right now, the British press observes HL Menken’s dictum: journalist is to politician as dog is to lampost. Leveson would let the lampposts set the rules.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, June 28, 2014 • Permalink