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The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media: Decoding Spin and Lies in Mainstream News

3.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1567511543
ISBN-10: 1567511546
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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Populist excoriation of the US media that amuses but never quite enlightens. In this collection of short pieces culled from his synducated weekly column "Media Beat" and other sources, Solomon gathers together just about all the complaints and criticisms of the-media the left has to make. Concentration of ownership has skewed coverage so that interests of a corporate few are well represented, but stories of working people and the poor are hard to find. White males dominate a "punditocracy" while the voices of people of color and of women are only infrequently heard. Stories of scandal, ... a la Clinton and Lewinsky, keep us amused while the real scandals of corporate downsizing and layoffs and government collusion in such actions remain virtually invisible. These are all important topics, worthy of perusal and consideration, yet here they are mostly reduced to slogans and one-liners. The trouble may lie in the format; a collection of columns is perhaps bound to be superficial. Each piece is no longer than two or three pages, so Solomon can tell us what is wrong but not why. Repetition abounds; we are told the media are "Orwellian" at least seven times. Jokes are repeated, facts are repeated. It's not that Solomon doesn't provide us at times with useful information, and he certainly writes with flair and humor -- his pundit bashing of such media figures as George Will is telling and hilarious. The political cartoons provided by Matt Wuerker and others are biting, as well. Still, there is a lack of analysis, of explanation, of in-depth investigation. True believers may nod in agreement, but others may simply become bored. Readers would be better served investigating the far superior three-volume study of the media Solomon co-authored with Jeff Cohen: Wizards of Media Oz; Through the Media Looking Glass; Adventures in Medialand (not reviewed). While skewering the media, Solomon commits the same sins of which he finds them guilty: sensationalism, superficiality, banality. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Norman Solomon is a long-time media critic who specializes in uncovering the premises behind the `centrist' prejudices of our major `mainstream' media.... Solomon's latest work consists of reprints of many fine columns and articles he's done over the years.... You won't want to miss the P.U.litzer Prize awards for exceptionally stinky journalism that Solomon, along with Jeff Cohen of FAIR, compiles every year. The incredible major media whitewashing of [figures] such as Benjamin Netanyahu and Madeleine Albright makes for depressing but informative reading. Fortunately, Solomon has a sense of humor that leavens the dreariest news and helps put the daily crap into perspective. The myth of secret reportorial leftism is nicely debunked by Solomon. Many of the Washington press corps make six figure incomes and identify with their corporate masters.... I can't think of a better tool to organize alternative media critiques than this latest welcome work of Norman Solomon's. -- Z Magazine, November 1999, Reviewed by Michael Hardesty
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Common Courage Press (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567511546
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567511543
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,273,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
Solomon's The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media is a collection of juicy columns full of facts and quotes exposing how the mainstream media's lack of fair, complete, and unbiased reporting has become a major limiting factor for our democracy. He particularly addresses the consolidation of media power, the myth that liberalism dominates the media, and how the mass media has become little more than a public relations industry for the rich and powerful. Solomon realizes that access to information from all spectrums is a fundamental part of a healthy democracy; he raises this and many other issues virtually never covered in mainstream news. The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media is an extremely important book for all those who desire a clear vision of how the corporate media system works. Excellent book.
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Format: Paperback
Solomon, a media analyst with a finely-tuned and raging impatience with mealy-mouthed, corporate-dominated reporting, is the definition of an "anti-pundit." His book punctures the phony, puny-minded pablum that passes for mainstream news. The book starts off with a great satire of what the TV news would look like "if anchors talked straight." Solomon stays right on the mark on a set of important topics: coverage of labor (and the anti-intellectualism in much economics/business reporting), hypocrisy in scandal mongering and human rights and a host of other arenas, racism in reporting, and the right-wing-funded punditocracy. I'm using the book to help my students learn about critical thinking ... and to show them that cultural analysis can be sharp and smart and funny without being obscure!
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Format: Paperback
Norm's highly accessible and often humorous writing style provides an excellent characterization of the increasingly skewed views being promulgated by the "popular" mainstream media in the United States. I highly recommend this compilation of short articles and political cartoons to those whose reading interests might include realpolitik, media spin or double-speak analysis. This book provides an excellent deconstruction of some of the more insidious distortions that are becoming increasingly evident in the corporate owned and influenced mainstream news.
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Format: Paperback
Norman Solomon's compilation of media essays analyzing and skewering the corporate media is not just an excellent historical journey, it make us look at ourselves and remember how the corporate media spin stories and successfully deceive a majority of the American people who are seduced by the slickness and gloss of the air brushed barie doll couple inhabiting the surreal world of the media and those behind the scenes, like the Wizard of Oz, who control what Americans see and read.
One of the best essays was one titled "Orwellian Logic 101" in
which Solomon defines terms currently adrift in the media universe and what they really mean. Terms such as terrorist, propaganda effort and responsible journalism.
Solomon's compilation is an excellent opportunity to awaken oneself from the media induced sleep which is too easily entered and from which it is difficult to awaken.
Solomon practices the important notion of viewing the world not as one thinks it ought to be but how it really is--full of lying politicians, seducers, PR men, and media sycophants who willingly and cheerfully participate as U.S. government spokesman and flag waving supporters for global hegemony supporting without question or critique American foreign policy.
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I have had my own personal experience with the mainstream media and how they severely limit the reporting of serious corporate abuses and crimes. The general public is kept much in the dark about vital issues that affect their lives. It does not bode well for our democracy.
I think people who dismiss Solomon's serious concerns about how our news is disseminated, don't want to acknowledge the truth, because (it maybe too frightening) they then might have to take some responsibility for it.
A rich democracy embraces divergence. When books such as Solomon's are a standard part of America's public educational system, then democracy will truly be live and well in America.
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As depicted on the cover illustration, Norman Solomon brilliantly shows us how the mass media behaves like submissive monkeys, well-trained by corporate power. The book effectively urges us to be concerned with the consequences of this behavior, particularly with the human rights abuses it fosters.
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