Once a Newspaper Touches a Story, the Facts Are Lost Forever, Even To the Protagonists

Norman Mailer? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: U.S. journalist and best-selling novelist Norman Mailer once sardonically stated that when newspapers focus on a story the facts are lost forever; inevitably, even the participants lose track of the facts. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In June 1960 “Esquire” magazine published comments from Norman Mailer inspired by a photo essay. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

It was a dull, hot, newsless day in summer, so it made the newspapers. All too inaccurately according to the Dealers. Ten vicious juvenile delinquents beat up a cripple, went the jazz. “Hell, man, it wasn’t like that at all,” one of them said, “it was a fair rumble.” We’ll never know. Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1969 “The Home Book of Humorous Quotations” edited by A. K. Adams included an entry for the quotation. The citation pointed to a 1963 collection of pieces by Mailer: 2

Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.
Norman Mailer, The Presidential Papers.

In 1997 the “American Heritage Dictionary of American Quotations” included the quotation: 3

Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.
—Norman Mailer, in Esquire, June 1960

In conclusion, Norman Mailer should receive credit for the words he wrote in “Esquire” magazine in 1960.

Image Notes: Picture of newspaper from moritz320 at Pixabay. Image has been resized.

Notes:

  1. 1960 June, Esquire, Brooklyn Minority Report, Photographs by Bruce Davidson; “She Thought the Russians Was Coming”, (Commentary on photographs by Norman Mailer), Start Page 129, Quote Page 137, Published by Esquire Inc., Chicago, Illinois. (Internet Archive)
  2. 1969 Copyright, The Home Book of Humorous Quotations, Edited by A. K. Adams, Topic: The Press, Quote Page 296, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York. (Verified with scans)
  3. 1997, American Heritage Dictionary of American Quotations, Selected and Annotated by Margaret Miner and Hugh Rawson, Topic: The Press, Quote Page 408, Penguin Reference, New York. (Verified with scans)