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April 14, 1954

Richard Rovere, author, social critic and contributor of the “Letter from Washington” for The New Yorker magazine, spoke on “The Status of Truth in America” in Blodgett Auditorium. Offering one of six lectures sponsored by the political science department on the subject, “Reflections on the 20th Century Political Order,” the author—with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.—of The General and the President (1951) said that the era of Americans’ belief that “the truth will always prevail in the end” had been usurped in politics by a strategy of “multiple and manifold untruth.” Thus, the “currency of discourse” in public life had “been debased.”

“Using Senator [Joseph] McCarthy as an example,” The Miscellany News reported, “Mr. Rovere said that McCarthy has successfully operated on the idea that if he talks enough we won’t know what he is talking about. To rectify his statements would be an impossible undertaking for any one man, since one cannot keep all the elements of falsehood in mind at one time.”

Rovere’s Affairs of State: The Eisenhower Years appeared in 1956, and Harcourt, Brace published his Senator Joe McCarthy in 1959.

The Years