Richard Melson

July 2006

Walter Lippmann

Walter Lippmann


Walter Lippmann (1889-1974)

Walter Lippmann, the son of second-generation German-Jewish parents, was born in New York City on 23rd September, 1889. While studying at Harvard University he became a socialist and was co-founder of the Harvard Socialist Club and edited the Harvard Monthly.

In 1911
Lincoln Steffens, the campaigning journalist, took Lippmann on as his secretary. Like Steffens, Lippmann supported Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party in the 1912 presidential elections.

Lippman's book, A Preface to Politics (1913) was well-received and the following year he joined Herbert Croly in establishing the political weekly, the New Republic.

Lippmann rejected his earlier socialism in
Drift and Mastery (1914) and in 1916 became a staunch supporter of Woodrow Wilson and the Democratic Party. In 1917 Lippmann was appointed as assistant to Newton Baker,

Wilson's secretary of war. Lippman worked closely with Woodrow Wilson and Edward House in drafting the Fourteen Points Peace Programme. He was a member of the USA's delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and helped draw up the covenant of the League of Nations.

In 1920 Lippmann left the
New Republic to work for the New York World. His controversial books, Public Opinion (1922) and The Phantom Public (1925), raised doubts about the possibility of developing a true democracy in a modern, complex

Lippmann became editor of the
New York World in 1929, but after it closed in 1931, he moved to the New York Herald Tribune. For the next 30 years Lippmann wrote the nationally syndicated column, Today and Tomorrow.

Lippmann developed a very pragmatic approach to politics and during this period supported six Republican and seven Democratic presidential candidates.

After the
Second World War, Lippmann returned to the liberal views of his youth. He upset leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties when he opposed the Korean War, McCarthyism and the Vietnam War. Walter Lippmann died on 14th December, 1974.

Walter Lippmann

Walter Lippmann (September 23, 1889 - December 14, 1974),

was an influential United States writer, journalist, and political commentator.

Early life

Lippmann was born in New York City to German-Jewish parents, Jacob and Daisy Baum Lippmann. The family lived a comfortable, if not privileged, life. Annual family trips to Europe were the rule.

At age 17, he entered Harvard University where he studied under George Santayana, William James, and Graham Wallas. He concentrated on philosophy and languages (he spoke both German and French) and graduated after only three years of study.


In 1913 Lippmann, Herbert Croly, and Walter Weyl became the founding editors of The New Republic magazine. During World War I, Lippmann became an advisor to President Woodrow Wilson and assisted in the drafting of Wilson's Fourteen Points.

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 (USSR).

Early on, Lippmann was optimistic about American democracy. He believed that the American people would become intellectually engaged in political and world issues and fulfill their democratic role as an educated electorate. In light of the events leading to World War II and the concomitant scourge of totalitarianism however, he rejected this view.

Lippmann came to be seen as Noam Chomsky's moral and intellectual antithesis: He agreed with the Platonic view that the population is a great beast, a herd, that has to be controlled by an intellectual specialist class.

Chomsky used one of Lippmann's catch phrases for the title of his book about the media: Manufacturing Consent.

See also: Harold Lasswell, Edward Bernays

Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, in a 1920 study entitled A Test of the News, found that the New York Times coverage of the Bolshevik revolution was neither unbiased nor accurate.

It was Lippmann who first identified the tendency of journalists to generalize about other people based on fixed ideas. In addition to his newspaper columns, he published several books. Lippmann was the first to bring the phrase "cold war" to common currency in his 1947 book by the same name.



Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin & the search for postliberal order.

Lawrence, Kansas, University Press of Kansas. ; pp. 58-68; ISBN 0700607404.

Transaction Publishers. ISBN 1560000961.

Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0765804646.

USC Center on Public Diplomacy

Profile Works by Walter Lippmann at Project Gutenberg

Walter Lippmann Men of Destiny (1927)

Walter Lippman FBI FOIA

Biography with excerpt from works

Walter Lipmann & blue-water strategy

July 23, 2006