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Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media (American Political Challenges) Paperback – September 13, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0742538177 ISBN-10: 0742538176

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Product Details

  • Series: American Political Challenges
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (September 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742538176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742538177
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1988, Vice President George H.W. Bush successfully evaded Dan Rather's questions about his Iran-Contra affair involvement by going on the attack in a live interview on CBS. Crawford, a TV pundit and Congressional Quarterly columnist, identifies this event as the turning point in the media's relationship to both politicians and the nation. In this impassioned dissection of the rapid devolution of the media's power in today's political environment, he asserts that the public's distrust of the news media has reached at a high point, an issue he considers one of "the most hazardous political challenges now facing Americans." Politicians—liberals and conservatives alike (though Republicans bear the brunt of Crawford's ire)—have deflected criticism and convinced the public to blame the media. Though Crawford makes no startling observations or conclusions, he marshals convincing evidence for his argument, from the decline of PBS's editorial independence to the "televised smack-downs" between reporter Helen Thomas and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer during the lead-up to the Iraq War. Slim as Crawford's book may be, it does a decent job of pulling together the principal moments of the ongoing struggle between the press and the government. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

I have covered many a presidential campaign with Craig Crawford, and I can honestly say that, of all the so-called 'political experts' out there, he definitely consumes the most cheeseburgers. (Dave Barry)

Craig Crawford has written a definitive book that throws new light on the roles of the press and officialdom with sparkling anecdotes that prove his point. He doesn't spare either side, but the First Amendment comes out a winner in this scintillating book. (Helen Thomas, Dean, White House Press Corps, Hearst Columnist)

How lies are made into the truth, and truth made into lies; how the liars come to be perceived as victims and the truth-tellers, evildoers. A cautionary story for those of all political stripes, to say nothing of journalists and those who consume information today, and Crawford's nailed it. (Keith Olbermann, MSNBC)

It's all here—the good, the bad, and the ugly . . . and cable, too—all compiled by a political pro with a jeweler's eye for detail and the distance vision of a fighter pilot. Craig Crawford knows his beat. (anchor and managing editor, NBC Nightly News)

Craig's book made me alternately squeal with delight at the media's arrogance and curse his mother, Toby, for giving him life where he reveals the complicity of politicians in the contemporary degradation of political/press affairs. But Attack the Messenger is not about assigning blame; its an inspiration to stop the madness for democracy's sake. The media must stop presuming all politicians are corrupt, egomaniacal liars, and we pols have to consider the possibility that not all media are evil, self-serving, out-of-touch cynics. Both professions are anchored in ideas, populated with idealists who all rue their tradecrafts have degenerated to a point that devalues both their noble worlds and worse—the public they both long to serve. (Mary Matalin, Republican political consultant)

With wit and insider knowledge, Craig Crawford identifies America's Most Wanted: the con-men, spinners, character assassins, electronic demagogues, greedy bottom-liners, and barefaced liars who—with rather too much help from sloppiness in the media—are destroying public faith in the institution of a free press. This is a timely and entertaining book—which is more than I can say for most of the people in its gallery. (Tina Brown, Washington Post columnist and author)

Impassioned dissection of the rapid devolution of the media's power in today's political environment...pull[s] together the principal moments of the ongoing struggles between the press and the government. (Publishers Weekly)

Crawford . . . is a Washington insider, a purveyor of inside wisdom and a collector of mind-numbing detail. (David Shribman St. Petersburg Times)

Provocative. . . . Mr. Crawford's book serves as a useful introduction to the issue at hand, providing a persuasive sketch of how the current White House, with assists from its two predecessors and a changing media landscape, has worked to undermine the mainstream press. (Michiko Kakutani, Books of the Times Editor The New York Times)

Crawford often writes engagingly and has his moments of perceptiveness and clarity. (Margaret Sullivan, editor-in-chief, The Buffalo News Washington Monthly)

More About the Author

Craig Crawford (http://craigcrawford.com/) was born in 1956 in Owensboro, Kentucky at Davies County Hospital (which happens to be the same facility where actor Johnny Depp took human form some years later). His parents, Bill Crawford, a road builder, and Tabitha ("Toby") Craig, a school teacher, gambled on a new life in Florida when Craig was three years old. To this day, the family calls Orlando home, although work requirements mostly keep Craig and David Blank, his domestic partner since 1987, stuck in the belly of the beast, Washington, D.C. Craig is a blogger, news commentator and author of three books: "Attack the Messenger," "The Politics of Life," and "Listen Up, Mr. President." Follow Craig on Twitter at http://twitter.com/craig_crawford

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Marisa on September 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Once I picked it up I didn't want to put it down again. Craig Crawford has provided compelling and insightful criticism of the role of politicians and the press in the erosion of public trust in the media. A sobering look at the intersection of politics and media as it exists today. A must read for consumers of news and information, but should be of particular interest to students of Journalism, Public Policy and Political Science.

Craig offers much needed historical context for the breakdown in trust between the politicians, the press and the public. He makes an eloquent case for the importance of a free press to a healthy democracy. We all benefit when the press is free to serve its ultimate purpose of watchdog and informant for the public, and we all suffer when that process is eroded. Everyone should read this book.

Buy this book! Buy this book! Seriously, you'll be glad you did.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Todd on September 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Crawford brings to the mainstream a debate that's been taking place among journalists for years. As citizen journalism grows, the power of the "MSM" will only grow as someone will always be looked to, to call "balls and strikes." This means the strategy of politicians (no matter their party) attacking the media will continue. (The Clintons were just as bad about attacking the media, er, messenger, as the Bushes) And this book details just how harmful the discrediting of journalism is to the Republic.

Crawford has a unique ability to see things with a vision most in DC don't have. It helps that Crawford never forgets his roots, something that's always refreshing during his must listen to appearances on "Imus." He's never a "conventional wisdom" rehasher.

Crawford also brings to light the debate about "bias." He correctly reminds readers that all journalists have bias. Sometimes the bias is for an ideology, sometimes for a person and sometimes for an issue. A good journalist is "Fair and Biased."

Bottom line, whether you are a casual follower of politics or an up-and-coming journalist/blogger, this is a must read book. You won't be disappointed.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Marshall on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Crawford's pulling back the curtain that surrounds the media/political world that is Washington DC is both compelling and more then a little scary.

His examples of how the First Amendment is damaged by the constant battling between the press and polaticans are troubling for all that believe that a free press is the only tool Americans have to protect our freedoms.

Crawford's insights are sharp and unique and therefore a must read for anyone that's interested in the present art of "the spin" and how it's used for both good and evil.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alan Smithee on October 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
With a sardonic wit rarely heard in today's vacuous media echo chamber, MSNBC-CBS-Imus-CQ political pundit Craig Crawford provides an erudite treatise on why political journalism is in such turmoil. His analysis is as clear as Ketel One vodka on the rocks; his interpretation of the new media's impact on political coverage is as meaty as a triple-decker club sandwich. In this era of gotchya journalism and the politicians who hate it, Crawford provides a scholarly take on the hows and whys on the modern blabbocracy.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gilbert Johnson on October 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Crawford tells it like it is - even if it exposes George W. Bush for railroading the country into war or Bill Clinton for lying about a more personal faux pas. He even shares his own hate mail, being upfront about what some of his critics are thinking. But in the end, we get a fair look at how it is from the media's point of view...why what looks like a rude follow-up question from a reporter was actually necessary to avoid a politician's attempt to dodge and spin. Crawford's examples from recent history tie it all together.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian M. Ayres on August 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the other reviewers who praised Craig Crawford for his views but felt they could have been summed up in a magazine piece rather than a book.

Crawford's last two chapters stretched out what was solid analysis on how politicians have handcuffed the media into being nothing more than lapdogs.

The first 75 pages are worth picking up and reading. Crawford reports how the media lost America's trust as politicians scream that the press is either biased, unfair or mean.

I always get a chuckle out of the Bush administration's treatment of Helen Thomas and other reporters. Whenever criticism strikes, to use an expression heard on Rush Limbaugh, the Bushies embrace "victimhood." And the public buys it. Rather than wanting to know the truth or get to the crux of the story, politicians frame the debate based on proxy issues like media bias.

I agree wholeheartedly with Crawford's take that reporters should remove this obsurd "objectivity" from their vernacular and lay it all out there as far as what they believe. When they go to a war zone, report what you see and make an educated assessment. That's the purpose of the press. They are not only the public's eyes and ears, but are supposedly intelligent enough to make educated assessments of what they see and hear.

Many less informed viewers need that. There is a difference between opinion and bias, but the politicians have embedded this idea in the public's mind that dissent is unpatriotic and combativeness is simply being rude.

We need more Helen Thomases and less lapdogs like Brit Hume.
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