Slanting the Story: The Forces That Shape the News First Pr. Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1565845770
ISBN-10: 1565845773
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There is indeed a vast right-wing conspiracy out there, writes Trudy Lieberman in Slanting the Story: "How the right wing has come to dominate public policy debates is one of the most significant political stories of the last two decades. The right-wing success stems largely from a variety of aggressive strategies used by well-financed think tanks and policy institutes to influence the media's coverage of political and economic issues." She has a point: conservative organizations that barely existed a generation ago now play a major role in shaping American political life, including the media's coverage of it. Her opinion of what this all means, however, is rather slanted itself: the result, she asserts, is "misleading and one-sided reporting that has given the electorate a distorted view of many important issues." Conservatives who can't find jobs in universities or have ever seen the surveys showing that the vast majority of reporters vote Democratic will laugh out loud when they read Lieberman's red-alert prose: "Conservative organizations are designing the agenda ... debate has become one-sided. The implications for the future of American democracy are profound."

Lieberman does make several intriguing observations, such as how conservative groups have modeled themselves after the consumer and environmentalist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. They've "beaten Ralph Nader at his own game," she writes. She also offers a few interesting case studies on how conservative groups have fought, with some success, against the growth of government. Lieberman clearly wishes they had failed. She urges journalists to engage in more objective, balanced reporting, but she doesn't practice what she preaches: this book is a hit job. It will appeal to left-wing partisans, and few others. --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly

"How the right wing has come to dominate the public policy debates is one of the most significant political stories of the last two decades," declares Lieberman, health policy editor at Consumer Reports. This dominance has come, she says, through the aggressive strategies used by well-financed think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, to frame political debates in the media. Lieberman backs up her thesis with effective case studies. She notes that the conservative Capital Research Center's "ad hominem attack" on the liberal American Association of Retired Persons, as part of a campaign to dismantle Social Security and Medicare, resulted in an "avalanche" of news coverage echoing various charges made by the Center. Likewise, she says, the "modernization" (i.e., the weakening) of the Food and Drug Administration was effected by a campaign by a handful of right-wing think tanks on an antiregulatory campaign. Lieberman doesn't aim her cannons at the right-wing think tanks alone; she also criticizes what she sees as the intellectual laziness of many in the news media. News stories, she argues, often fail to identify the ideological bias of their sources and fail to provide context for their charges, resulting in "misleading and one-sided reporting." In a few cases, the author does not seem critical enough when analyzing the think tanks' claims for credit as the source of news stories, and she unfortunately doesn't grill the journalists whom she claims have too readily accepted think-tank propaganda. But she sagely observes that the "old journalistic model" may not work well when confronted by a "sustained, well-funded lobbying effort" and that journalists committed to neutrality are unwilling to supply critical context. She also warns that liberal advocacy groups must better promote their arguments and counter their opponents. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; First Pr. edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565845773
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845770
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,386,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Let me apologize straight up, I have not read the book- but I have, just today (Nov.2003) on alternet.org, read her related - and excellent - essay on the new Bush Medicare "reform" legislation, and what it means to the future of Medicare. (Sidenote: It may mean the end of Medicare, beginning about a decade from now: The healthy are given incentives to get out of Medicare, the insurance corporations are given tax subsidies to compete against Medicare, and only the old and sick will be left in Medicare - which will have less money and so higher costs. To the charge that the law may end Medicare, Republican Senator Thompson responded, "I hope so." These facts are relevent to my review of this book.)

I write this review because passage of the law seems to fulfill predictions made in her book (as gathered from the other reviews here).

This prediction from her book of 2000 has come true: In order to "save" Medicare, the 2003 law may end it.

Another prediction: The AARP, targeted by the GOP, as warned by this author, did indeed support the new Medicare law. (Indeed, the guy who is CEO of the AARP since 2000 also wrote the intro to discredited former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's book on how to dismantle Medicare.)

My 5 stars review here is points for the author being correct, and also to counter any bias in the only two other reviews here, which are given unfair weight due to so few reviews. Also, the author's credentials are good: she is a contributor to Consumer Reports and Columbia Journalism Review. If the book is written as well as her essay which I read, then the author writes clearly and to the point. Not a rant or rave, just the facts. I like that, I can think for myself.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mike Flaherty on June 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
According to Lieberman, a Columbia Journalism Review contributing editor, the "forces" in her book's title are a cabal of conservative think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. She maintains that by inundating news organizations with position papers, self-serving statistics, and talking heads, their operatives have insidiously shifted national debate rightward. Through four exhaustively documented case studies, she revisits the political right's plans to delegitimize both the American Association of Retired Persons and Head Start, "save" (read: cut) Medicare, and "modernize" (read: water down) the powers of the FDA. Scary and compelling, Lieberman's screed gives the lie to the notion of the "liberal media" even as it will be read by some as a product of that same mythic beast.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
How the media distorts and misconstrues information is truly phenomenal...but is it really some vast "right-wing" conspiracy as Lieberman suggests, or is it fear on both political sides? Each political side seems determined to make the other look unjust, bigoted, and dishonest (politicians come and go but politics never change). As long as people like Lieberman blame and shame one side we get nowhere--it has yet to work in the Middle East. The media, in many ways seems more on the side of anarchy and sensationalism. I'm sure this author is a sincere idealist who feels that if people could just think the way she did the world would be a better place...or at least a "safer" one. Most people I know stick to their opinions no matter what the media or books like this one say.
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