George Creel & Co.

The other day WFCR‘s morning news program included an interview with John Maxwell Hamilton, author the new book Manipulating the Masses: Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of American Propaganda.

Turns out the chat was with David Brancaccio of the Marketplace Morning Report. Audio and a transcript of it are HERE.

The book’s focus is the Committee on Public Information, better known as the Creel Committee, formed in 1919 to generate support for U.S. participation in World War I and undermine opposition — and  the agency’s legacy since its dissolution in 1919.

A longer interview with Hamilton, longtime journalist and professor of journalism at Louisiana State University, is also online, in an hour-long podcast relayed by the WOUB Center for Public Media at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication. Hamilton speaks engagingly with Tom Hodson of WOUB, HERE.

The latter interview (which was probably done before the Marketplace one) gives listeners a glimpse of such Wilson-era characters as Carl W. Ackerman, Ray Stannard Baker, George Creel, Josephus Daniels, Eugene V. Debs, Col. Edward House, Charles Evans Hughes, Vera Whitehouse, and a younger Allen Dulles.

In one of them Hamilton uses the phrase “pretzel-thin” to describe the press sorely stretched by the demands of covering World War I in Europe and at home. He likens it to today’s news media and the challenges of covering Covid-19. All sorts of other matters got (and get) scanted as a result.

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