I said yes when a glenn beck producer asked me to come on the show for an hour as the expert on Edward Bernays, who manipulated public opinion from the 1920s through the 1980s. It’s been 27 years since I interviewed and then wrote about the propagandist, but this was an opportunity to see Beck up close. Since my critique of Bernays is long out of print, I wouldn’t be tempted to kiss up to the ratings master in the hope of garnering gargantuan book royalties. (Other temptations remain, of course.)

As the producer pre-interviewed me and explained what Beck was looking for, I told her what I would and would not address. Yes, Bernays pioneered in getting women to smoke by promoting cigarettes as signs of liberation, and getting voters to back politicians by making them seem like human gods. Yes, Bernays—Sigmund Freud’s nephew and devotee—argued that “democracy” would lead to chaos unless people like himself secretly ran the show. Yes, it did seem to me that proponents of corporate bailouts and global warming had used Bernays’ techniques.

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