chapter  10
The Journalist as Social Scientist: Walter Lippmann
Pages 6

The most visible "sociological imagination" in journalistic form seems to revolve around columnists of The New York Times, sometimes Paul Krugman, other times Maureen Dowd or their colleagues, but mostly David Brooks. In 1943, James Thurber created a cartoon for The New Yorker showing a couple reading their morning newspaper, the woman saying to the man "Lippmann scares me this morning". Walter Lippmann begins by noting "a special uneasiness which perturbs the scholar. Lippmann decided to use Browning's imagination to aid him, which was a good choice indeed. Robert Browning's meditation on the burying of an imaginary Renaissance scholar is partly heartfelt, partly mocking. The poet acknowledges the scholar's superiority to those who people the "unlettered plain" while at the same time noting his anxiety—which Lippmann adopted as his own—regarding his proper role when amidst ordinary humans in action, those outside the walls of his monastery or library.