Is It A Better Time Than Ever To Pick Fights With The Press?

Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.

That old adage, most frequently attributed to writers H.L Mencken and Mark Twain, wisely advised spokespersons to avoid picking fights with the media. (In fact, the expression traces back to the mid-1960s, when former Indiana Congressman Charles Brownson quipped, “I never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”)

Crisis communications texts have regurgitated that advice for decades. But is it still a good practice?

After all, when Rep. Brownson offered his guidance almost a half-century ago, spokespersons were more at the mercy of the press than they are today. Today, spokespersons can rebut false or defamatory charges using their own websites, blogs, and social media channels. So here’s the question of the week:

In the age of social media, is it a good idea to occasionally pick fights with the press? Does the expression “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel” still apply?

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below. I’ll highlight some of your answers in a new article next week. And please share this link with your networks to help ensure that we get a good diversity of answers.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to reading your thoughts!