The Washington Post unveiled a cheery new motto this week: “Democracy dies in darkness.” The phrase now appears beneath the newspaper’s name on its website and Snapchat Discover page, although it has yet to make its way into the print edition.
If it sounds like a catchphrase more befitting a doomsday prophet than a daily newspaper, that doesn’t seem to be the intent. While its precise origins are unclear, it’s a favorite saying of Bob Woodward, the famous Post reporter and editor, who has deployed it in speeches and interviews since at least 2007 as an earnest criticism of government secrecy. The Post’s owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, repurposed it as a rallying cry in a 2016 interview about why he bought the paper:
I think a lot of us believe this: that democracy dies in darkness, that certain institutions have a very important role in making sure that there is light. And I think the Washington Post has a seat, an important seat, to do that, because we happen to be located here in the capital city of the United States of America.
In Bezos’ mind, then, the motto is really about “making sure there is light.” Still, it’s hard to shake the sense that we’re reading dispatches from the end times with those three D-words looming atop the paper’s home page. The grim action verb, the present tense, the dunh-dunh-dunh alliteration, the foreboding final word: Cormac McCarthy, take notes!
Far be it for us at Slate to chide fellow journalists for apocalyptic responses to our present political predicament. That said, we can imagine that the backlash and mockery might give the Post’s executives pause as they ponder putting the motto on their subscribers’ doorsteps every morning, and we’re here to help. Should Washington’s paper of record decide at some point that it wants to strike a slightly gentler tone, here are 15 classic metal album titles that might fit the bill.
Welcome to Hell, Venom (1981)
Screaming for Vengeance, Judas Priest (1982)
Reign in Blood, Slayer (1986)