Revisiting the Origins of Communication Research: Walter Lippmann’s WWII Adventure in Propaganda and Psychological Warfare

Dominique Trudel


Based on a close study of Walter Lippmann’s correspondence and publications, this article aims to critically reconsider his legacy in the field of communication. To this end, I focus on Lippmann’s involvement in propaganda and psychological warfare activities during the Second World War. Following a succinct overview of the history of the psychological warfare and propaganda agencies, I successively explore three different aspects of Lippmann’s involvement. First, this article examines Lippmann’s contribution to the activities of the Committee for National Morale. Second, the article focuses on the relationship between Lippmann and William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the director of the Office of the Coordinator of Information and the Office of Strategic Services. Third, the article turns to the relationship between Lippmann and Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, and explores Lippmann’s role in the War Department’s Psychological Warfare Branch.


communication research history, propaganda, psychological warfare, Second World War

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