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11-08-2015, 16:46

The Propaganda War

In a country as large and varied as the United States, shaping public opinion was a massive task, especially when it came to overcoming opposition or indifference to the war effort. More than 13 percent of the population was foreign bom, and the United States contained 8 million Americans of German descent, over 4 million with roots in Ireland, and 2 million Swedish Americans. All of these groups were traditionally hostile to Entente countries like Britain and Russia or else emotionally linked to Germany. Led by former journalist George Creel, the government's Committee of Public Information (CPI) set out to arouse and maintain support for the war. Creel moved to sell the war by mobilizing a corps of 75,000 public speakers—the "Four Minute Men"—to address crowds in places like movie theaters. Creel's moviemakers produced propaganda films with titles like Pershing 's Crusaders or The Prussian Cur. Specially written articles went to elementary and high schools and to local newspapers for reprinting on their own pages. Immigrant communities found Creel's articles appearing in their own languages in their own newspapers, and Creel's staff, including many university professors, watched those same newspapers to ferret out antiwar sentiments.