Walter Lippmann

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Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889 - December 14, 1974), was an American journalist and commentator. Lippmann was highly respected in his day.

Lippmann began attending Harvard University at the age of 17 and under George Santayana, William James, and Graham Wallas. He concentrated on philosophy and languages, spoke German and French, and graduated in three years.

Lippmann was one of the founding editors of The New Republic magazine in 1913. Lippmann was an advisor to President Woodrow Wilson during World War I, and assisted in the drafting of Wilson's Fourteen Points.

Public Opinion

In the 1920s philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952) engaged in a major debate with Lippmann on the impact of the technology on democracy. Both agreed that the communications revolution had created a large and more complex world, that political and social institutions had not kept pace with the changes wrought by technology, that the masses were more susceptible to propaganda, and that modernity threatened democracy. Their critiques diverge on solutions, especially whether or not democracy could be saved. While Lippmann saw the public as unredeemable and subject to mass manipulation, Dewey thought that more public involvement in socio-political affairs was needed and that tools of mass communication could be used to this end.[1]


Lippmann had wide access to the nation's decision makers and had no sympathy for communism. But the Golos spy ring used Mary Price, his secretary, to garner information on items Lippmann chose not to write about or names of Lippmann's sources, often not carried in stories, but of use to the MGB.

Cold War

Lippmann is accredited with popularizing the phrase "Cold War" to describe the breakdown of the World War II Allied Powers alliance and the growing post-war tensions.


Starting as a Socialist, Lippmann moved right through most of his life, becoming a conservative y the 1930s and an advocate of Natural Law[2]. For example, Noam Chomsky admired Lippmann's concept and phrase "manufacture of consent"[3] and so titled his 1986 pamphlet[4]. Shortly thereafter in 1988 Chomsky co-wrote and published Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media with fellow liberal Edward S. Herman.


  1. Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (1922) and The Phantom Public (1925); John Dewey, The Public and Its Problems (1927)
  2. Religion, Politics, and the Higher Learning, Morton White, Harvard University Press, 1959 p.112
  3. Chomsky on democracy & education, Noam Chomsky, Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0415926319, 9780415926317, 480 pages, p.397
  4. The Manufacture of Consent, Noam Chomsky, Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law, University of Minnesota, 1986

External link