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December 14: Walter Lippman

December 13, 2014

lippmannlifemagPulitzer Prize-winning journalist and political columnist Walter Lippman died at 85 on this date in 1974. He was a founding editor of The New Republic, an advisor to several presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Lyndon Johnson (with whom he sharply feuded over the Vietnam War, which Lippman opposed), and originated the term “Cold War” (in 1947) and the use of “stereotype” to describe fixed prejudiced ideas in the public mind. Lippman was a Socialist Party member at Harvard during his student days and remained a centrist socialist during his early career, but became increasingly skeptical of both the common citizen (“the mass of the reading public is not interested in learning and assimilating the results of accurate investigation”) and what he called the “guiding class.” A celebrated critic of both the mass media and flaws in modern democracy, he created the phrase, “the manufacture of consent.” Lippman’s syndicated column, “Today and Tomorrow,” appeared in more than 250 American newspapers and in 25 other countries. His books included Liberty and the News (1920), Public Opinion (1922), A Preface to Morals (1929), The Good Society (1937), and The Public Philosophy (1955), among numerous others, and his ideas have been invoked by both the left and the far right in the struggle for the hearts and minds of the American public.

“The time has come to stop beating our heads against stone walls under the illusion that we have been appointed policeman to the human race.”