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All the President's Spin: George W. Bush, the Media, and the Truth Paperback – August 3, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's no shock that an American president would employ skilled PR pros to carefully hone a message that makes the administration's objectives more palatable to the general public. It's a tradition that dates back decades. But it's another matter entirely to base an entire presidency on the bending, twisting, and distorting of the truth. According to authors Ben Fritz, Bryan Keefer, and Brendan Nyhan, the George W. Bush administration tiptoes around the definition of lying but still uses ambiguous language, selective use of facts, and shaky evidence to sell the American people on issues like the effect of tax cuts, the impact of a business-friendly environmental policy, and the reasons for going to war in Iraq. While the authors have plenty of blame to place on the administration, the news media are also fingered for parroting administration spin and reporting it, without verification or context, as objective fact. Fritz, Keefer, and Nyhan, founders of the political analysis web site Spinsanity, detail how Bush and company, more than any administration in history, cherry pick information that they find helpful, regardless of how representative it is of the overall truth, and then package it with a forceful and persistent presentation that eventually takes on the patina of reality. Democrats will also find that 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry appears very much up to playing the political game on Bush's terms as the authors dissect and deflate plenty of misleading primary season anti-Bush charges made by the Democratic nominee. All The President's Spin is richly detailed, not surprising given the sound bite-free task of picking apart political spin, and while it is intensely critical of Bush's messaging, it does not pass judgment on the wisdom or efficacies of the policies themselves. Any politician could take a lesson from the authors' clarity and comprehensive scope. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

George W. Bush vowed to restore "honor and integrity" to the White House during his 2000 presidential campaign, but instead he has launched an "assault on honesty," argue the authors, who founded the watchdog Web site Spinsanity.com after concluding during the 2000 election that the "national debate had been reduced to an endless barrage of spin." In this lucid critique of Bush’s "permanent campaign of policy disinformation," the authors evenhandedly point out instances when other politicians, including Kerry, Clinton and Reagan, have distorted the truth to their advantage, but they contend that Bush is the "current leader of the arms race of deception." Bush’s weapons: "emotional language designed to provoke gut-level reactions, slanted statistics that are difficult for casual listeners to interpret, and ambiguous statements that imply what Bush does not want to state outright." The authors support their claims with many solid examples. For instance, when commenting on the method that Bush used to imply a connection between Saddam and September 11, they point to a televised address that aired prior to the war in which Bush linked Iraq, al Qaeda and September 11 without saying directly that Iraq was responsible for the attack. The book isn’t just a critique of Bush’s spin tactics, however. The authors also reproach the media for letting statements like this go unchecked and for being so overly concerned about objectivity that they’ve become a mere outlet for politicians’ "talking points." Well organized and heavily referenced, this passionate indictment will pique readers’ awareness of political spin and of the outlets—bloggers, publications like the Economist and "infotainment" programs like Comedy Central’s The Daily Show—that are purportedly fighting it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original ed. edition (August 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743262514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743262514
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,210,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was surprised by this book. The most important thing to note, that you might not get from other reviews, is that this book is just as much an indictment of the media as it is an indictment of the President. Bush is presented as the ultimate spinster of course, but the media is his all-too-willing enabler. What the authors don't explicitly say, I don't think, but which they definitely imply, is that in an age where everything that Rice and Ridge and Frist and Daschle and Bush and Kerry and all the rest say, on CNN, on ABC -- anywhere -- is simply a prepared talking point that is almost always either designed to A) skirt an uncomfortable issue, or B) serve as misleading spin; in such an age purely objective journalism has to end, it is no longer enough, it is simply the enabler of democracy-destroying propaganda. To grind my own ax for a sec: who in their right mind wants to hear yet another Bush cabinet member get on CNN and say something we all know is a focus-grouped half-truth, and yet again see Wolf Blitzer accept this spin without pointing out the person's intellectual dishonesty? Who else is sick of seeing spin passed along un-commented upon in the New York Times and the Washington Post? Yet, the media wonders why so many people my own age would rather tune in to The Daily Show a day later and see Jon Stewart make fun of both the spinster, and the reporter who was nodding along.... Which viewer is actually less educated? This is a book that will hopefully do much to help correct this problem. Far more than any other book I have seen it details not only the Bush administration's spin, but also all the ways in which politics in general has become a cynical marketing campaign. It's all here, facts, citations: no spin. The authors state they have been involved in Democratic organizations, but they hit Democrats hard, too. They report, you decide.
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Format: Paperback
This is the definitive book of the year to counter political propaganda, equivocation and dishonesty. The authors run the definitive anti-spin, non-partisan website that is growing in popularity and is long overdue as a source of truth in today's ridiculously self-serving political arena. To know the source of this book (see spinsanity.com) is to appreciate the merciless and noble pursuit of truth. No person nor his ideology is spared critisism. From Bush, O'reilly and Hannity on the far right to Moore on the far left, half-truths, out-right lies and distortions are exposed, explained and corrected.

This book is a continuation of this pursuit of truth regardless of party affiliation or ideology. Unlike many other Anti-Bush books, this book is not biased and has no partisan agenda. Indeed the book even goes after Kerry to let readers know what the real message is: Politicans twist and select facts to promote a cause and counter an opposing one. Unfortunately for Bush, he has inadvertently set himself up as a prime target. The book goes after the Bush lies without embellishing or exaggerating and does likewise with Kerry in so far as is possible at this point.

Personally, I hope this book helps to further promote truth in politics, to encourage partisan readers to re-elvaluate their blind loyalty and most of all, to push the general public to DEMAND better information from candidates and the general media which, as the book points out, is a guilty party in aiding and abetting through sheer laziness and profit potential thru sensationalism.

This book is an invitation to the real no spin zone and it isn't pretty. Blind partisan fanatics would do well to learn the reality behind the rhetoric which drives their blind support.
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This book coldly and logically put what I have felt and suspected of our gov't and media for some time into an undeniable limelight. This book reveals the new methods used on the media by PR centric Politicians to "Spin" issues till unrecognizable, undebateable non-issues.

Sparing their readers from Michael Moore or Ann Coulter styled rhetoric, Ben Frtz, Bryan Keefer, and Brendan Nyhan cut to the core of what may be one of the largest threats to an informed democracy.

This is a book every Poli Sci, PR, and communications major should read!
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Format: Paperback
Everybody, average voters and journalists alike, MUST read this book! Ben Fritz, Bryan Keefer and Brendan Nyhan, of Spinsanity.org, provide a valuable service in scutinizing the tactics that the Bush administration and their media machine have been using to mislead the American public, taking dishonesty to a new level. The authors, who scrupulously avoid any partisan rhetoric in their argumentation, describe in detail the tactics that the Bush team has used, the origins of these tactics, and the spurious claims that they have been used to advance. The administrations greatest hits on the truth are all there, from how they sold their tax cuts to how they sold Iraq to how they questioned the patriotism of their critics. But most importantly, the authors show how this administration's PR team has exploited the weaknesses of our national political media. These guys point out how the President and his team frame the debate by relentlessly staying on message, repeating the same talking points over and over again. To the best of my knowledge, the only other "news" organization to make an issue of this tactic is Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." That alone speaks volumes about the state of the media in America today and how the Bush team has exploited it.

This book is well written and quite accessible. A real page turner; each chapter left me wanting to know more. This book is essential reading.
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