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 society.
Lippmann became editor of the New York World in 1929, but after it closed in 1931, he moved to the 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. He died on 14th December, 1974.
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