To The Daily Sun,
If we were to turn back the clock to the time when Woodrow Wilson was in power we might have a better idea of how minds are manipulated through the use of propaganda. Following his promise to keep us out of the war, he created the Committee on Public Information headed by George Creel, a journalist. His function, to persuade the masses to accept intervention into World War I. He created the "Division of Pictorial Publicity." His most famous poster is "I want you" with Uncle Sam pointing his finger at you.
The Espionage Act of June 15, 1917, gave the government authority to limit the press and speech. Wilson stated in his war message that disloyalty would be corrected with a firm hand. Paranoia took over. Anyone who disagreed with the war was considered unpatriotic. The Post Office, Justice Department and Congress became pro-war.
Walter Lippmann wrote in Public Opinion, "... a rough estimate of the effort it takes to reach 'everybody' can be had by considering the government's propaganda during the war."
"Mr. Creel had to assemble machinery which included a Division of News that issued more than 6,000 releases, enlist 75,000 Four Minute Men who delivered 755,190 speeches to over 300 million people. Periodicals were sent to 600,000 teachers. There were 1,430 designs for posters, window cards, newspaper advertisements, cartoons, seals and buttons. Chambers of commerce, fraternal societies, churches and schools were used as channels of distribution." He writes that journalists don't report the news but repeated what others have said.
Lippmann wrote in 1925 in Phantom Public, "... the public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, that each of us may live free of the trampling and roar of the bewildered herd."
Let's not disregard Edward L. Bernays, nephew to Sigmund Freud. His interest in social psychology, public opinion studies, public persuasion and advertising illusions that could be filtered to the masses as reality became helpful for the Wilson administration. He created the slogan "Make the world safe for democracy." Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister found a use for Bernays' books "Crystallizing Public Opinion" ( 1923) and "Propaganda" (1928).
Bernays went commercial, working for various companies to promote their product. When women paraded through New York city carrying signs that said "March for Freedom," it was Bernays' idea. If you voiced an opinion that women should not smoke, you were criticized as being against women's freedom. Suddenly women were smoking everywhere. Joseph Goebbels said, "Propaganda means repetition and more repetition! Repeat it even until the densest has got it." Sound familiar?
The 1930s were fraught with untruths and deceptive newspeak that covered up heinous crimes and the deaths of millions of people in the Ukraine. Walter Duranty won the Pulitzer Prize for such untruths.
Andrew Cairns a Canadian and agriculture expert reported "men, women, and children ... are left to die in order that the Five Year Plan shall at least succeed on paper,." Sir Esmond Ovey, British ambassador in Moscow, wrote Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon, "The pity of it is that this account cannot be broadcast to the world at large as an antidote to Soviet propaganda in general."
Years later Cairns was asked why he did not publish his findings. He replied that he had been threatened by powerful political figures of the left in Great Britain. He named Beatrice Webb who praised Stalin five-year plan in her book "Soviet Communism: A New Civilization."
"There is no famine or actual starvation, nor is there likely to be." (New York Times, Nov. 15, 1931, page 1. Walter Duranty.)
"Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda." (New York Times, Aug. 23, 1933. Walter Duranty.)
Gareth Jones' Ukraine famine genocide report met reprisals from Duranty and Eugene Lyons. Once the Bolsheviks got a hold of the thriving Sea of Grain, starvation of millions ensued.
Four years later Lyons admitted in "Assignment in Utopia" they were juggling facts to please dictatorial regimes.
Robert Conquest wrote in "Harvest of Sorrow," "as one of the best known correspondents in the world for one of the best known newspapers in the world, Mr. Duranty's denial that there was a famine was accepted as gospel. Thus Mr. Duranty gulled not only readers of the New York Times, but because of the newspaper's prestige, he influenced the thinking of countless thousands of readers about the character of Joseph Stalin and the Soviet regime, and he certainly influenced the newly elected president Roosevelt to recognize the Soviet Union."
Duranty left a legacy for the Times to follow. Herbert Mathews praised Fidel Castro in 1957 as a young leader and wrote "amounts to a new deal for Cuba, radical, democratic, and therefore anti-communist?"
Gene F. Danforth
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