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Russell Baker's Quotes

Russell Baker profile photo

Born: 1925-08-14
Profession: Journalist
Nation: American
Biography of Russell Baker

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It seems to be a law in American life that whatever enriches us anywhere except in the wallet inevitably becomes uneconomic.

Tags: American, Law, Life

It was Queen Elizabeth who made me a foreign correspondent.

Tags: Elizabeth, Foreign, Queen

It's always seemed odd to me that after a group of terrorists commits a vile and odious deed they rush messages to the public to claim credit for it.

Tags: After, Group, Public

Journalism talk is part of the nonstop background noise of American life.

Tags: American, Life, Talk

Journalism was being whittled away by a Wall Street theory that profits can be maximized by minimizing the product.

Tags: Away, Journalism, Theory

Kingsley Amis was one of a trio of brilliant comic novelists who made English literature sparkle in the twentieth century.

Tags: Brilliant, English, Literature

Live by publicity, you'll probably die by publicity.

Tags: Die, Publicity

Newspaper people, once celebrated as founts of ribald humor and uncouth fun, have of late lost all their gaiety, and small wonder.

Tags: Fun, Humor, Lost

Objects can be classified scientifically into three major categories: those that don't work, those that break down and those that get lost.

Tags: Lost, Three, Work

People who say you're just as old as you feel are all wrong, fortunately.

Tags: Old, Wrong

Poetry is so vital to us until school spoils it.

Tags: Poetry, School, Until

Rereading A.J. Liebling carries me happily back to an age when all good journalists knew they had plenty to be modest about, and were.

Tags: Age, Good, Knew

Serious journalism need not be solemn.

Tags: Journalism, Serious, Solemn

The American press has the blues. Too many authorities have assured it that its days are numbered, too many good newspapers are in ruins.

Tags: American, Days, Good

The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.

Tags: Tourist, Tourists, Worst

Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.

Tags: Done, Progress, Society

You can't enjoy light verse with a heavy heart.

Tags: Enjoy, Heart, Light

Few expected very much of Franklin Roosevelt on Inauguration Day in 1933. Like Barack Obama seventy-six years later, he was succeeding a failed Republican president, and Americans had voted for change. What that change might be Roosevelt never clearly said, probably because he himself didn't know.

Tags: Change, Few, Said

Those who remember Washington's cold war culture in the 1980s will recall the shocked reactions to Reagan's intervention. People interested in foreign policy were astonished when in 1985 he met alone at Geneva - alone, not a single strategic thinker at his elbow! - with the Soviet Communist master Gorbachev.

Tags: Alone, Single, War

A man writing a letter is a man in the act of thinking, and it was an exercise Reagan obviously enjoyed. After his first meeting with Gorbachev, for example, he sent a 'Dear Murph' letter about it to his old friend George Murphy, a former senator and actor who had once played Reagan's father in a film.

Tags: Father, Friend, Writing

A skillful playwright might have a good time with the story of the assassination of President William McKinley, and especially with the three most flamboyant political figures involved: Mark Hanna, Theodore Roosevelt, and Emma Goldman.

Tags: Good, Political, Time

American foreign policy had still not recovered from its victory over communism when George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice took over at the White House in 2001.

Tags: American, House, Victory

In an age when the fashion is to be in love with yourself, confessing to be in love with somebody else is an admission of unfaithfulness to one's beloved.

Tags: Age, Love, Yourself
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It is fitting that yesteryear's swashbuckling newspaper reporter has turned into today's solemn young sobersides nursing a glass of watered white wine after a day of toiling over computer databases in a smoke-free, noise-free newsroom.

Tags: After, Today, Young

It's good for the soul to hear yourself as others hear you, and next time maybe, just maybe, you will not talk so much, so loudly, so brilliantly, so charmingly, so utterly shamelessly foolishly.

Tags: Good, Time, Yourself

Letter writing was clearly important to Reagan. Even as president he kept dashing off letters to friends, pen pals, media people, statesmen, critics, and the kind of people who write to presidents never expecting a reply.

Tags: Friends, Off, Writing

Like all young reporters - brilliant or hopelessly incompetent - I dreamed of the glamorous life of the foreign correspondent: prowling Vienna in a Burberry trench coat, speaking a dozen languages to dangerous women, narrowly escaping Sardinian bandits - the usual stuff that newspaper dreams are made of.

Tags: Dreams, Life, Women

My natural instinct after doing something shameful is not to rush into the street boasting about it but to put on dark glasses and head for the next county, hoping nobody notices I've been in the neighborhood.

Tags: After, Dark, Put

Roosevelt's declaration that Americans had 'nothing to fear but fear itself' was a glorious piece of inspirational rhetoric and just as gloriously wrong.

Tags: Fear, Piece, Wrong

Situation comedy on television has thrived for years on 'canned' laughter, grafted by gaglines by technicians using records of guffawing audiences that have been dead for years.

Tags: Comedy, Dead, Laughter

Strategic thinkers were naturally rattled to find this outsider fooling around with their work. They had been thinking strategically when Reagan was just another movie actor playing opposite a chimpanzee, for heaven's sake. They think Reagan is too naive, too innocent, to grasp the intellectual complexities of cold war strategy.

Tags: Thinking, War, Work

The best discussion of trouble in boardroom and business office is found in newspapers' own financial pages and speeches by journalists in management jobs.

Tags: Best, Business, Trouble

The early commentators who put down the pre-presidential Roosevelt as an empty-headed young lightweight, all ambition and no talent, now seem comically wrong to a modern book-reading, movie-going, television-watching, legend-loving American public conditioned to think of him as one of the presidential giants on the order of Washington and Lincoln.

Tags: Him, Put, Young

The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any.

Tags: Real, Work, Writing

There is a growing literature about the multitude of journalism's problems, but most of it is concerned with the editorial side of the business, possibly because most people competent to write about journalism are not comfortable writing about finance.

Tags: Business, Finance, Writing

What the New Yorker calls home would seem like a couple of closets to most Americans, yet he manages not only to live there but also to grow trees and cockroaches right on the premises.

Tags: Grow, Home, Seem

When sudden death takes a president, opportunities for new beginnings flourish among the ambitious and the tensions among such people can be dramatic, as they were when President Kennedy was killed.

Tags: Death, President, Takes

You can always tell folks from nonfolks. Folks like to feel good, like to smile for the camera when there's a big photo opportunity for a really good cause.

Tags: Big, Good, Smile

An educated person is one who has learned that information almost always turns out to be at best incomplete and very often false, misleading, fictitious, mendacious - just dead wrong.

Tags: Best, Education, Learned

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.

Tags: Nature, Power, Summer

Don't try to make children grow up to be like you, or they may do it.

Tags: Children, May, Parenting

A group of politicians deciding to dump a President because his morals are bad is like the Mafia getting together to bump off the Godfather for not going to church on Sunday.

Tags: Bad, Sunday, Together

Children rarely want to know who their parents were before they were parents, and when age finally stirs their curiosity, there is no parent left to tell them.

Tags: Age, Children, Parents

Inanimate objects can be classified scientifically into three major categories; those that don't work, those that break down and those that get lost.

Tags: Lost, Science, Work

Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays it insists on it.

Tags: Company, Longer, Misery

Reporters thrive on the world's misfortune. For this reason they often take an indecent pleasure in events that dismay the rest of humanity.

Tags: Humanity, Politics, Reason

Americans like fat books and thin women.

Tags: Books, Fat, Women

In America, it is sport that is the opiate of the masses.

Tags: America, Masses, Opiate

People seem to enjoy things more when they know a lot of other people have been left out of the pleasure.

Tags: Enjoy, Left, Seem

Gerald Boyd was a classic specimen of the self-made man. Born poor, he worked and studied his way up out of poverty under the guidance of his widowed grandmother.

Tags: Born, Poor, Poverty

I gave up on new poetry myself 30 years ago when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens in a hostile world.

Tags: Between, Lonely, Poetry

It was clear soon after his election that Obama, like FDR, wanted to start dealing with the economic crisis immediately after his inauguration.

Tags: After, Crisis, Wanted

Listen once in a while. It's amazing what you can hear.

Tags: Amazing, Once, While

The goal of all inanimate objects is to resist man and ultimately defeat him.

Tags: Defeat, Goal, Him

When it comes to cars, only two varieties of people are possible - cowards and fools.

Tags: Car, Cars, Possible

A day spent praising the earth and lamenting man's pollutionist history makes you feel like a superior, sensitive soul.

Tags: History, Makes, Soul

Anticipating that most poetry will be worse than carrying heavy luggage through O'Hare Airport, the public, to its loss, reads very little of it.

Tags: Loss, Poetry, Public

Anything that isn't opposed by about 40 percent of humanity is either an evil business or so unimportant that it simply doesn't matter.

Tags: Business, Evil, Humanity

Caution: These verses may be hazardous to your solemnity.

Tags: Caution, Hazardous, May

Except for politics, no business is scrutinized more exhaustively than journalism.

Tags: Business, Except, Politics

Feel good about linking hands in human chain for good causes.

Tags: Good, Hands, Human

In America nothing dies easier than tradition.

Tags: America, Easier, Tradition

Is fuel efficiency really what we need most desperately? I say that what we really need is a car that can be shot when it breaks down.

Tags: Car, Efficiency, Shot
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