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Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth Paperback – June 15, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Conservative talk show hosts and newspaper columnists have made an industry out of incessantly deriding the American left, citing liberals for everything from moral decay to bad economic policy to a soft approach on terrorism. Often these accusations are bound in book form and sell quite well. Only one problem, according to Salon.com and New York Observer writer Joe Conason: the charges they're leveling just aren't true. In Big Lies, Conason dissects 10 of the most persistent, and--according to him--glaringly incorrect, arguments made by conservatives. Each chapter begins with a quotation ("Liberals control the media and misuse their influence to promote left-wing politics," "Conservatives are the only true champions of free enterprise"), which is then picked apart using statistical evidence and detailed historical research and rejected. The modern right wing, in the opinion of Conason, is not the bastion of virtue and defender of the common man it claims to be. Rather, it is a calculating and shrewdly efficient group of propagandists fueled by revenues generated by a system that rewards cronyism. Granted, it doesn't take much to deflate the bombast of shrill political talk show hosts whose very living depends on making shocking accusations about public figures, a couple of raw facts usually does the trick, but Conason offers more than simple refutation, going deeper to challenge the presumptions that generate such platitudes. And he navigates a highly readable and informative writing style that feels more substantive than Molly Ivins and Al Franken but still a lot wittier than Noam Chomsky. Many of Conason's arguments, like those of his foes, naturally come down to matters of opinion, and published material can readily be found to back up nearly any perspective. Nonetheless, he presents clear and logical points, and his thinking is well supported by both the historical record and empirical data. Accusing Joe Conason of lies (of any size) would certainly be a difficult task. --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Liberals are fighting back, and Conason, a columnist for the New York Observer and Salon, delivers what he hopes will be a knockout blow to Ann Coulter (whom he accuses of "manufacturing... sham outrage for personal gain and political advantage") and her liberal-bashing comrades on the right. He lands some fine punches as he turns what he terms their "lies" back on themselves, amassing evidence that it's conservatives who are the elitists, who hold sway in the media, who violate family values (though Conason's chapter on what he casts as the hypocrisy of Newt Gingrich and his cohorts, trotting out one sexual transgression after another, quickly becomes distasteful). Conason's case is substantial, especially in dismissing conservatives' espousal of the free market-arguing that what they really support is selfish crony capitalism (he indicts the Bushes at length)- and in reviewing of Clinton's strong anti-al-Qaida campaign to counter charges that he was "soft" on terrorism. (Liberals will find it particularly delicious that then senator John Ashcroft led the battle against Clinton's effort to get government control over encryption software on civil liberties grounds.) But most of Conason's points are already well rehearsed, though liberals may find it useful to have them gathered in one volume. Despite conservative Republican election victories, Conason argues, polls show that most Americans sympathize with liberal positions on issues from the tax system to the environment. Still, it's not clear that what eventually becomes a tiresome litany of the sins of the right is the best way to remind Americans of where their sympathies really lie.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (June 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312315619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312315610
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
He writes a book exposing lies told to all of us by mostly extreme right-wing conservatives. He is not attacking the Republican party as a whole, or the Democrat, for that matter, but certain individuals and groups. He isn't trying to say that all conservatives or liberals are bad, but there are several out there that have taken their lies so far out that they have hurt the country to the very depths of its soul. All of us have a little liberal and a little conservative in us, some a little more of one than the other. It is this small right wing group he talks of, compared to the entire country, that has turned this country upside down with their lies. He is trying to clear some of them up.
Ann Coulter is one that he exposes. Why anyone would want to believe her lies is beyond me. Her ideas are so unamerican and unchristian that it is mind boggling that they even published her book, but then you see the people who support it and her and then you get a little better idea of the brain-washing that the people are getting.
He exposes the news media for its bias and shows the relations of various owners and their blatant use of distorting the truth.
He tells about how Bush distorts the truth about taxes. How he tries to convince the average person how good a deal they are getting when the rich elite are the ones that are getting the deals. Most corporations and such do not pay the taxes that they should in the first place and then they get the big refunds. An example would be that under the Jobs Growth Tax Relief and Recconciliation act of 2003 under Section 179 expense Deduction: expense deduction was increased from 25,000 to 100,000 for 2003, 2004, 2005. That is 75,000 dollars that will not be taxed.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a very liberal person, and agreeing with what Joe Conason has to say is a good start. However, I don't give out five starts lightly, and I'll admit that the left has its fair share of sloppy political commentators who don't check their facts often. I'm glad to say that Conason here delivers a book that is as involving and well-researched as Al Franken's "Lies", and is a must read for anyone who doesn't like the way things are going in America right now.
Like Franken, Conason spends a good deal of time attacking the right-wing media, but it's not the focus of the book. Rather, he concentrates on the hypocrisy of the "family values" Republicans, and the terrible things that George Bush has done to this country in the name of "restoring moral values" and "fighting the war on terrorism".
I think it's about time that the left fought back against the right's charges with everything we've got. It always infuriates me when the right-wingers call Democrats un-American (I love what this country's supposed to stand for) and anti-family (I love my family dearly, and want one of my own once I graduate college) simply because we believe in equal rights for all and the continuing separation of church and state. Conason hits exactly the right note here, and I highly recommend "Big Lies".
However, a disclaimer- by the time you finish this book, you will likely be very angry, as there's not as much comic relief as there was in Franken's "Lies".
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Format: Hardcover
This book is well worth reading and easily rises above the comments of the 'reader from San Francisco' (who seemed to think that CNN is a leftist television station because it is to the left of Bush on a few more issues than Fox is). It seems unfair to let such a lengthy attack on the book go unanswered, so here goes:
1)If the commentator truly wishes to see the extent of the falsity in Bernard Goldberg's _Bias_, then he ought to read Eric Alterman's _What Liberal Media?_. Presumably, with this excellent refutation of Goldberg's canards already on the market, Conanson deemed it unnecessary to devote much space to this issue. But I'd be surprised if any open-minded person could give any credit to Goldberg after reading both his book and Alterman's.
2)Conanson's claims about Clinton's more aggressive stance regarding Bin Laden are correct and well-documented. If the commentator doubts those claims, the burden is on him to show where Conanson's arguments break down. Clearly, the commentator has failed to do this: saying it's "just silly" only shows that he doesn't believe the claims made. But to doubt the conclusion to be sound without being able to find any flaws in the argument or its premises, or even to produce any counterargument, is just pigheadedness.
3)In his next paragraph, the commentator asks "how the heck can you claim that the media are owned by the corporations?", the implication being that this claim of Conanson's (which is, again, backed up very well) is ridiculous and false. But this is hardly a matter of opinion! The media outlets described _are_ all owned by corporations. That is a matter of public record that nobody -- not even the media outlets and the corporations who own them -- attempts to deny!
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