He could basically convince anybody of anything, good or bad.
Bernays convinced the government to change a planned “Committee for Unemployment” to the “President’s Emergency Committee for Employment.”
Why? “President” is a “godhead symbol.” “Emergency” sounds temporary, but important. And “for Employment” sets a positive goal.
He seized on language in other ways, too. He created lists of verbs to guide political campaigns. Those “action” words can help any leader: assail, deny, predict, hail, ask, promise, appeal, urge, hope, advocate, tell, declare, request, remark, reveal, propose, condemn, exhort, praise and forecast.
He also was flat-out clever. Asked once why he read Playboy, he said, “For the same reason I read National Geographic. I like to see places that I will never visit.”
—Adapted from The Father of Spin, Larry Tye, Crown Publishers Inc.