PRINT March 1991


The Gulf War: a Report from the Couch

Just as there have grown up in America experts in merchandising and experts in selling and advertising—so our complex democracy has developed this expert in appraising public opinion and in developing a technique for changing it. Press agents they were called in Barnum days, when through one spectacular device after another . . . they regimented the public mind to a box office. . . . And propagandists they developed into during the [First World] war, with a regimentation of the human mind that availed itself of every primitive desire and instinct of the individual and the group.

—Edward L. Bernays, father of public relations, 1925

One, two, three. . . .What are we fighting for?

—Country Joe and the Fish, 1967

WRITING IN 1925, Walter Lippmann—one of America’s most incisive chroniclers of the “public mind”—advanced the following explication of the ways in which “leaders, politicians and steering

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