Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: A new Committee, A new Type Of War.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A new Committee, A new Type Of War.

"On April 6, 1917, when the United States Formally declared war, the issue of propaganda moved to the top of the president's agenda." (PR, Ewen, 108)

As Walter Lippmann recommended to the President at the time, propaganda is essential (especially during war time) for nurturing "a healthy public opinion" (Ewen 108). We think of this as advertising in a way. The war was "advertised" to the public and to inform them that their intentions were to "make a world that is safe for democracy" (Ewen 108). This stemmed after the creation of an official government news bureau, that was to handle all advertising regarding the war.

During Wartime it is essential to pick and chose your words wisely, as well as the company you keep in order to shape public opinion. Lippmann even submitted plans to the president laying out the specifics. There was the creation of a "Publicity Bureau" a "clearinghouse for information on government activities.

To sum this concept up, Lippmann's ultimate goal was to mobilize the people, the elite, journalists, intelligent minds with voices rather, to share opinion. He even went as far as to tap into the American film industry. Propaganda was important for war support, weeding out the lies spoken/told from abroad was another issue and important for keeping up American morale.

With plans in place, shortly after, Wilson took action and issued executive order No. 2594 to establish the CPI. Below, he spoke on the committee, who would run it, and who would be involved.

I hereby create a Committee on Public Information, to be composed of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, and a civilian who shall be charged with the executive direction of the Committee.

As Civilian Chairman of this Committee, I appoint Mr. George Creel. The Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of the Navy are authorized each to detail an officer or officers to the work of the Committee.

April 13, 1917.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post.

Lippmann and Bullard did play an important role in convincing Wilson on need for a massive campaign of persuasion using all of the American media. The fact that he put Creel, a journalist, rather than a general in charge of the committee was an important decision. In Europe propaganda was mostly run by the military rather than a civilian.

2/23/2009 9:37 PM  

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