Birth of a slogan

It seems the Washington Post ran a rather compelling ad during the “Super Bowl” yesterday, expanding on its post-Trump inauguration masthead slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Paul Farhi explained in February 2017:

The Washington Post added a new phrase beneath its online masthead this week — “Democracy Dies in Darkness” — and the commentary flowed immediately. The slogan quickly trended on Twitter, drawing tweets even from the People’s Daily newspaper in China. It was fodder for a few late-night cracks from Stephen Colbert, who suggested some of the rejected phrases included “No, You Shut Up,” “Come at Me, Bro” and “We Took Down Nixon — Who Wants Next?”

Why that particular quartet of words? It goes back to Woodward, who says he got it from a judicial opinion, which Farhi traces back to

Judge Damon J. Keith, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, who ruled in a pre-Watergate era case that the government couldn’t wiretap individuals without a warrant. In his decision, Keith apparently coined a variation on The Post’s motto, writing that “Democracy dies in the dark.”

Flatter, isn’t it. “The dark” just sounds like what you find in the back of the closet; “darkness” is more spooky, more abstract and general, more of a metaphor.

So anyway. Keep lighting candles and passing them around.

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