The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & The Birth of
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Author:  DO.g's [ Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:16 pm ]
Post subject:  The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & The Birth of

The spin doctors owe a lot of their techniques to the nephew of Sigmund Freud- the illustrious Edward L. Bernays- the founding father of the profession of public relations. His book CRYSTALLISING PUBLIC OPINION was a hurried response to PUBLIC OPINON that revealed a pragmatic, even instrumental approach to the job of what has since come to be known as 'spin doctoring'. Bernay's publicity stunts for American tobacco and his advocacy of American military intervention in Guatemala to save the United Fruit Company’’s 'banana republic' offer a very concrete test case in the management of consent, the crystallization of public opinion.

Bernays' life was amazing in many ways. He had a role in many of the seminal intellectual and commercial events of this century. "The techniques he developed fast became staples of political campaigns and of image-making in general," Tye notes. "That is why it is essential to understand Edward L. Bernays if we are to understand what Hill and Knowlton did in Iraq--not to mention how Richard Nixon was able to dig his way out of his post-Watergate depths and remake himself into an elder statesman worthy of a lavish state funeral, how Richard Morris repositioned President Bill Clinton as an ideological centrist in order to get him reelected, and how most other modern-day miracles of public relations are conceived and carried out."

Walter Lippmann's book PUBLIC OPINION (1922) caused a huge stir. Posing the question of whether the citizenry in democracy are fit to carry out their role and responsibilities in decision-making processes, Lippmann wondered if ordinary citizens could be well-educated and well-informed enough to cope with the complexity of the information-flows involved in a modern state. His suggestion that consent needs to be 'managed' is the source of the anxieties unleashed by the book.

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