Posted by David FG on February 22, 2005
In Reply to: Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel posted by ESC on February 22, 2005
: : Does anyone know the origin of this saying?
: : I work for a newspaper in the Philippines and I heard the saying when our then-president Estrada organized a boycott of the Philippine Daily Inquirer because it wrote unflattering stories about him.
: : Estrada was kicked out of office in 2001.
: Short answer: I don't know. I've e-mailed "Editor and Publisher" and "The Columbia Journalism Review" with the above question. None of my quote books have the phrase. Online it says it is an "old adage" and it is attributed to Oscar Wilde and to Mark Twain.
It is not a phrase I have come across before, but I would imagine that it is a caution against taking up arms against the press. (Who presumably would have bought ink by the barrel.)