David Greenberg is an associate professor of history and of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. A frequent commentator in the national news media on contemporary politics and public affairs, he is the author most recently of Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency (2016). His first book, Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image (2003), won the Washington Monthly's Annual Political Book Award, the American Journalism Historians Association's Book of the Year Award, and Columbia University’s Bancroft Dissertation Award. His biography Calvin Coolidge (2006) was included in the Washington Post’s list of best books of the year. His Presidential Doodles (2006) was widely reviewed and featured on CNN, NPR's All Things Considered, and CBS Sunday Morning. Formerly a full-time journalist, Greenberg served as managing editor and acting editor of the New Republic, where he was a contributing editor until 2014. He has also been a regular contributor to Slate since its founding and has written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Daedalus, Dissent, Raritan, and many other popular and scholarly publications.
Today our political culture is pervaded by a widespread distrust of political messages and disdain for what we call spin. The lecture traces the roots of this suspicion to the First World War, when propaganda--from both the European belligerents and the American government--led to a backlash against the very use of propaganda. The talk traces how this suspicion became so debilitating that it discouraged Americans from taking seriously the Nazi threat until the eve of World War II.