Moderated by Professor Janet Steele, this SMPA discussion will look at the striking history of concerns about fake news, propaganda, and the fear of the mob in the US., as described in a new book by Professor Lee Huebner: The Fake News Panic of a Century Ago: The Discovery of Propaganda and the Coercion of Consent.
Just as the term “fake news” has recently exploded into public consciousness, so did the concept of propaganda a century ago. It was then a new term in public discourse, one that became an obsession and even a panic as it seemed to threaten the very future of democracy. Triggering these fears, then as now, were new technologies which eroded the social infuence of traditional communites, even as a pschological revolution spotlighted the erosion of reason and the rising power of suggestion and the emotional mob.
Can public "consent" actually be "coerced" by disinformation? Professor Huebner will share the views of thoughtful commentators of the past which have continuing relevance today.