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Edward Bernays

Edward BernaysAKA Edward Louis Bernays

Born: 22-Nov-1891
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: 9-Mar-1995
Location of death: Cambridge, MA
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Propaganda

When Bernays was one year old his family moved from Vienna to New York City where he was to spend most of his life. A nephew of Sigmund Freud, he was responsible for financing some of the earliest translations of Freud into English. During WWI, Edward began work for the Committee on Public Information, the vast propaganda machine commissioned by Woodrow Wilson to sway the American public towards war. He became so instrumental he was invited to accompany Wilson to the Paris peace conference.

After gleaning a working knowledge of manufacturing consent, he began filtering his own ideas about propaganda's role in influencing opinion through Freud's theories of psychoanalysis. Eventually he fathered his own pseudo-science, and he was its first Counsel on Public Relations, a honorific he invented for his new lexicon of obfuscation. He was hired as a consultant for Calvin Coolidge and orchestrated a photo-op for the president, softening his image. In 1954, he was largely successful in creating a media atmosphere in which the United Fruit/CIA overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala was seen as acceptable.

"The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest." -- Bernays, The Engineering of Consent

"The average citizen is the world’s most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own ‘logic proof compartments,’ his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction." -- Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion

"Karl von Weigand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Weigand his propaganda library, the finest Weigand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Weigand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me..." -- Bernays, recalling a dinner at his home in 1933

Father: (Freud's wife's brother)
Mother: (Freud's sister)
Wife: Doris Fleischman

    University: BS Agriculture, Cornell University

    Jewish Ancestry
    Austrian Ancestry

Is the subject of books:
The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations, 1998, BY: Larry Tye

Author of books:
Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923)
Propaganda (1928)
Public Relations (1952)
Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of a Public Relations Counsel (1965, memoir)

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