Wage Peace Because Why Not? Do you have somewhere else to be?
“All governments lie,” Stone’s maxim, ought to be plastered across every journalist’s desk. But the lesson Stone can offer us today is, I would say, mostly a reminder that we will have to rise to our own occasion, and not expect heroes from the past to guide our faltering steps.
I.F. “Izzy” Stone was a wonderfully intelligent, hard-working, and highly respected American journalist who wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power. He’d been blacklisted during the McCarthy witch hunts and couldn’t get a job with a mainstream paper, so he started his own independent weekly. Stone was not invited to White House press conferences, but didn’t mind. He famously said, “There’s a lot of things those journalists know, that I don’t know, but a lot of it is wrong.” Stone read the voluminous Congressional Record cover to cover, finding news stories in unlikely places. Stone was highly respected and had good sources inside government.
In 1964 I. F. Stone was the first American journalist to challenge the account provided by President Lyndon B. Johnson of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Throughout the 1960s Stone exposed the futility of the Vietnam War. By the 1960s the I. F. Stone's Weekly had a circulation of 70,000. However, ill-health forced I. F. Stone to cease publication in 1971.
There must be renewed recognition that societies are kept stable and healthy by reform, not by thought police; this means there must be free play for so-called subversive ideas - every idea subverts the old to make way for the new. To shut off subversion is to shut off peaceful progress and to invite revolution and war.
I.F. Stone's Weekly (1954-03-15)
Every time we are confronted with a new revolution we take to the opium pipes of our own propaganda.
I.F. Stone's Weekly (1963-01-21)
I sought in political reporting what Galsworthy in another context had called "the significant trifle" — the bit of dialogue, the overlooked fact, the buried observation which illuminated the realities of the situation.
The Haunted Fifties (1963)
The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. it is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news. Their main concern is advertising.
The Haunted Fifties (1963)
A certain moral imbecility marks all ethnocentric movements.
I.F. Stone's Weekly (1967-08-03)
All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.
In a Time of Torment, 1961-1967 (1967), p. 317
Lifelong dissent has more than acclimated me cheerfully to defeat. It has made me suspicious of victory. I feel uneasy at the very idea of a Movement. I see every insight degenerating into a dogma, and fresh thoughts freezing into lifeless party line.
I.F. Stone's Bi-Weekly (1969-05-19)
I thought I might teach philosophy but the atmosphere of a college faculty repelled me; the few islands of greatness seemed to be washed by seas of pettiness and mediocrity.
I.F. Stone's Bi-Weekly (1971-12-14)
To be able to spit in their eye and do what you think is right and report the news and have enough readers to make some impact is such a pleasure that you forget, you forget what you are writing about. It becomes, you know, it like, you are like a journalistic Nero fiddling while Rome burns and having a hell of a good time or like a small boy covering a hell of a big fire. It's just wonderful and exciting. You are a cub reporter and God has given you big fire to cover. And you forget, you forget it is really burning.
Quoted by Bill Moyers in Bill Moyers talks with alternative media heavyweights Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman about what can and can't be addressed in big corporate media, PBS.org (3 April 2009)
There’s a lot of things those journalists know, that I don’t know, but a lot of it is wrong.
Quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, As timely as Trump, a documentary about political deceit and feisty, independent journalism by Peter Hum (7 February 2017)