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The Washington Consensus: Journalism and the Making of the Postwar World Order

September 23, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Black and White image of a long table with many men in suits seated around the table, looking at the camera
In October 1945, Washington newsmen throw a banquet for Admiral Ernest King to thank him for attending background dinners during World War II. Image credit: Joseph C. Harsch Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society.

Monday Seminar:

Kathryn McGarr

Resident Fellow (2019-2020)

School of Journalism and Mass Communication, UW-Madison


The Washington Consensus is the history of reporters who covered U.S. foreign policy in the 1940s and 1950s. My project pays particular attention to the social networks that fostered consensus reporting and the importance of World War II to institutionalizing those networks. I argue that the exclusive information economy that reporters actively built and maintained in this period — centered on background dinners, stag banquets, and epistolary networks — created an appearance of Cold War consensus about America’s leadership position in a new postwar world order.


Kathryn McGarr is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is currently working on a book about reporters in Washington in the mid-twentieth century, examining the ways in which social networks and professional practices shaped foreign policy discourse. She earned her Ph.D. in history from Princeton University, an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University, and a B.A. in history from Stanford. She is the author of the political biography The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics (Public Affairs, 2011).


September 23, 2019
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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University Club, Room 212
432 East Campus Mall
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States