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Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, And Destroy Democracy Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595581294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595581297
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nichols, a correspondent for theNation, and McChesney, a journalism professor, excoriate the media for failure to hold politicians accountable for their words and deeds, thereby failing in their responsibility to protect American democracy. The authors examine current media practices in the context of press freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the concepts held by the Founding Fathers. The troubling recent presidential elections and the war in Iraq--and the lackluster reporting by the media--are the latest in a long trend toward a kind of corporate media that treats Americans as consumers rather than citizens. The authors compare manipulation of American news reporting and elections to practices of the Soviet Union at its strongest, with the political Right exerting more control of the news cycle. The authors also examine some promising trends--including the Internet and creation of independent media. The book includes interviews with John Kerry, Howard Dean, Barack Obama, and other key political figures, exploring concerns about the media's role in democracy. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A short, fast-paced book, scenic like a good film script, steeped in the irony and horror of war. -- The Los Angeles Times

An eye for the perfect image, a wonderful ear for dialogue and a prose style that floats across the page. -- Las Vegas Mercury

Essential reading. -- The San Diego Union-Tribune --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Simpy a great book.
Jazz Man
An important and at times laugh out loud funny part of the book are the cartoons by Tom Tomorrow.
Dennis Littrell
The conclusions might make you happy but you're none the wiser as to the reasons why.
Leo Klein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jazz Man on November 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Simpy a great book. Nichols and McChesney are two of the most informed and sharpest media critics around. Right wingers won't like this book because it destroys so many of the myths that they cling to. However facts are facts and the authors are expert at presenting them.
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Format: Hardcover
The trend is unmistakable. Officials in Washington refer to what is happening to American media as "deregulation". Nothing could be further from the truth. What is really going on in this country is media consolidation. As a result one company, Clear Channel, now owns more than 1200 radio stations across America. A handful of other media conglomerates including Citadel, Entercom and Infinity control most of the rest. The same holds true for television stations and major newspapers. John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney find this to be an alarming situation. In "Tragedy and Farce" Nichols and McChesney present a compelling case for making the ongoing media consolidation the overriding public issue of our day.

For most of the history of the American republic there has existed a vibrant and diversified press. Most major cities had multiple daily newspapers reflecting a wide variety of opinion. Likewise most radio and television stations were locally owned and operated. In this environment the vast majority of these outlets were committed to covering local news and issues. Sadly in just the past quarter century all of this has changed dramatically. And as the authors passionately argue, no matter what your political persuasion, this is at the very least an unfortunate and at worst a potentially dangerous situation. At the beginning of Chapter 1 Nichols and McChesney quote Founding Father and former President James Madison who opined that "A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alice C. Brown on February 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The premise of this book is that we are not getting the real news from our media. The truth is being distorted, spun and omitted by the editors who are responsive to the dictates of THEIR masters, Big Business.

By allowing large conglomerates to buy up our communication media and monopolize the very avenues by which we learn about our government's policies and mishaps, the government/Big Business has assured itself of a propaganda machine. Better than Pravda at disguising the truth, ABC, NBC, CBS and of course, Fox are servile and willingly disguise the truth.

This book goes further and details the lack of money being spent on investigative journalism. They are simply stenographers to the Bush administration. I highgly reccommend this book, but be prepared to go elsewhere to get your news. YOu will never again trust the U.S. media for the truth. Not even PBS is giving it to us straight, or questioning their 'sources'.

From now on, it's LeMonde or Der Spiegel for me, and sometimes, the Washington Post!!!..just for comparison. But here's one good piece of news: You CAN trust the traffic and weather. Well, at least the traffic picture. Big Business (e.g., GE, Disney, et al) can't make money off lying about that.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Leo Klein on November 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed by this book.

While generally sympathetic to its conclusions, I was expecting a systematic examination of exactly what the title purported to promise, namely, "How the American Media Sell Wars..."

Instead what I got was a broad hodge-podge of sweeping statements that oftentimes read like a blog post -- of over two hundred pages.

The authors seem to realize this when at the conclusion of the critical 2nd Chapter titled "The Crisis in Journalism", they write:

"We concede that this has been a sweeping discussion of journalism, and we have had to use broad brush strokes. We believe our core argument survives more detailed examination, and it would certainly be qualified and enriched by more detail and nuance." (p.35)

This level of examination doesn't stop them in the very next chapter from "drawing upon the foundation laid in chapter 2" as if sweeping assertions in one chapter could support sweeping assertions in the next without ever having to come back down to planet earth to have a closer look.

The book is completely riddled with un-sourced and undocumented conclusions which you either agree with or not but which the authors simply announce without bothering to prove.

The situation in newsrooms "is not unlike the newsroom in Pravda or Tass in the old Soviet Union" (p.32). Media coverage of Colin Powell's speech at the UN "could not have been exceeded by Stalin's stooges" (p.59). While all of this sounds great, you're entitled to wonder in a book that places so much emphasis on journalistic standards what exactly the authors know about Pravda, Tass or "Stalin's stooges".

In sum, this isn't a book that's particularly strong from a journalistic or research standpoint.
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