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Selling Fear: Counterterrorism, the Media, and Public Opinion (Chicago Studies in American Politics) Paperback – June 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Still seen as a foundational document for US journalism, the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ ‘Statement of Principles’ declares that a free press exists to inform citizens, serve as a forum for debate on important public issues, and bring independent scrutiny on government and other centers of power in society. Using an impressive mix of theory, quantitative and qualitative content analysis, and public opinion data, Brigitte L. Nacos, Yaeli Bloch-Elkon and Robert Y. Shapiro convincingly demonstrate that in the crucial years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the news media did none of these things. Aptly titled, Selling Fear is an important and sobering book, documenting a press that was ‘more lap dog than watchdog’ and that only ‘rediscovered its bite’ after the nation was deeply mired in the Iraq War, civil liberties and human rights had been violated at home and abroad, and opportunities to improve our ability to deter terrorism and increase our disaster preparedness were lost.”

(Michael X. Delli Carpini, University of Pennsylvania)

Selling Fear is destined to be the source for media coverage and polling trends during the Bush-Iraq era.”

(Lance Bennett, University of Washington)

Selling Fear is a must read for scholars of the mass media, public opinion, and terrorism. The book matches extensive content analysis of television coverage of the war on terrorism with public opinion data to present a nuanced look at the American public’s reaction to the events of 9/11 and its views on counterterrorism policies ranging from civil liberties to the war in Iraq. . . . A great addition to courses on media and politics, public opinion, and the politics of terrorism.”
(Shana Kushner Gadarian Political Communication)

“A carefully constructed, ably executed social science study that employs an impressive methodological array and a clear theoretical lens. This book has all the makings of a classic in political communications. Highly recommended.”
(E. T. Jones Choice)

“[T]here is much to commend in Selling Fear. The book is very important in its careful documentation of the shortcomings of the fourth estate in covering the issue of terrorism post-9/11. The lack of opposition voices among elites and the press enabled the Bush administration to enact policies that threaten the very fabric of American society. The breadth of the content analysis of media coverage and its effects on public opinion will make it the authoritative source on media coverage of 9/11 and its aftermath. Selling Fear will appeal to a broad audience; the writing is clear and accessible, making it a pleasure to read.”

(Jennifer L. Merolla Public Opinion Quarterly)

About the Author

Brigitte L. Nacos is a journalist and adjunct professor of political science at Columbia University. Yaeli Bloch-Elkon is assistant professor of political science and communications at Bar Ilan University, Israel. Robert Y. Shapiro is professor of political science at Columbia University.


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