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Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin Paperback – August 4, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beinhart scored satirical points last fall with his novel The Librarian, about an archivist whose talent for digging up damaging truths frightens a vast right-wing conspiracy with more than a passing resemblance to the current administration. The novel introduced the concept of the "fog fact": published information that remains unnoticed by the public. This slim volume promises to gather various fog facts about George W. Bush's presidency, but offers much more opinion than fact—specifically, amazement that reporting on subjects like the allegations that Bush pulled strings to avoid going to Vietnam or committed insider trading while his father was president didn't cost him either the 2000 or 2004 election. Beinhart sees the media's failure to call more prominent attention to political lies as the source of many Americans' "delusional" worldview, which he says led to war in Iraq. But his explanation of the "Soft Machine"—the media-industrial complex he says distorts our perception of reality and is the "enforcement arm of capitalism"—asserts rather than explains. Beinhart's freely associative tract could have used a more nuanced argument and suffers from digressions, like a lengthy exegesis on Horatio Alger's pedophilia, that, however entertaining, stick out awkwardly in a discussion of Dick Cheney's finances.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Larry Beinhart is an award-winning novelist who lives in Woodstock, New York. He is the author of Wag the Dog and last year's acclaimed novel The Librarian. His op-eds have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Newsday and the Miami Herald. He was the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; 1 edition (August 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560258861
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560258865
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.5 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ben Mack on September 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Is our current administration intentionally lying? Yes. Fog Facts is about key data evaporating into obscurity. Fog Facts is NOT a Right or Left wing propaganda book. This is an anti-propaganda book.

Professor Douglas Rushkoff recently published that the best way to help the masses see the Truth is to speak plainly. Game on. Beinhart has filled this bill.

In Wag The Dog Beinhart taught me more about propaganda than I had learned from multiple other texts. Fog Facts reveals the path that lead to our modern state of mass delusion. So long as most Americans keep seeing "the other side" as responsible for corruption, our current media system is secure. The greatest trick our media has pulled is the illusion of the two-party system. Both sides are ignoring fundamental lies and unprecedented changes to our constitution. The two-sides is two-faces of the same machine. When humans are two-faced we don't trust them.

Harry Blackstone used to walk a live elephant on stage and nobody would see him do that. It appeared as magic. Beinhart explains how crucial facts are lead on to the main stage of mass media without anybody seeming to notice. Presto, the world has changed. Media is not the magic by misdirection I was envisioning, it is a mass willingness to suspend disbelief.

Thank you Larry for helping me better understand the mechanism. However, I don't think you have gone far enough. Heads of media should be fired for misrepresenting the facts. Those that forged data should be charged with treason. Those that ordered the data be forged should be charged with crimes against humanity. But, as you point out, they changed the courts to preclude this possibility.

If this book disappears without debate, it will simply be one more bit of evidence to show the fix is in.
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Format: Hardcover
This is quite an extraordinary book, one of five I picked up while browsing at Barnes & Noble today. It gets a full five stars for elegant writing, logical presentation, and a lovely index. I read it together with Noam Chomsky's Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World (American Empire Project) interviews, and the two complement one another.

"Fog facts" are facts that are out in the open, but "invisible" in the sense that no one acts on them. The stolen Florida election--30,000 plus disenfranchised blacks *and* "overcount" votes where Al Gore was both checked and written, rejected as invalid instead of returned for verification--the specious claims against Iraq; the 9-11 Commission apologia; the list goes on. For myself, the most interesting fog facts dealt with the number of terrorists caught and jailed by France and other nations, as a tiny fraction of the cost of invading Afghanistan and Iraq, and with little to show for it excepts casualties, including significant numbers of US amputations being concealed from the public.

The author "outs" Judith Miller as an agent of Karl Rove in the run-up to the war in Iraq, earnestly selling the Administration's line on weapons of mass destruction, and perhaps one reason she was both favored by Rove in the current Valerie Plume case, and also sought to protect Rove.
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Format: Hardcover
Beinhart has done us a remarkable service by giving language to a new and critically important concept, that of the fact that is neither secret nor known. By "fog facts," Beinhart means to indicate pieces of information that have been published on back pages of business sections of newspapers or picked up by a columnist or two, information that has perhaps been circulated on the internet by those with a passionate interest in the issue and enough free time, information that is accepted as known and established by reporters, editors, producers, and pundits, but which the vast majority of the public has never heard about and would find incredibly important and shocking.

The subtitle that Beinhart gives his website is "Known Facts That Have Been Lost in the Fog," and by the fog he means to indicate, as described in his book, the onslaught of abundant facts and information about unimportant stories: Monica Lewinski and O.J. Simpson are two examples Beinhart gives. But Beinhart suggests at least one other force that helps keep some fog facts in the fog: people's reluctance to believe a really big lie. This, Beinhart writes, is "why it was easy to believe that Bill Clinton lied about having sex with that woman and hard to believe that Bush and his entire cabinet were telling bald faced lies about Saddam's connection to Al Qaeda and his weapons of mass destruction."

In fact, one of the fog facts Beinhart discusses is the Downing Street Minutes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Who needs sleep, anyway: as with Beinhart's last book, The Librarian, this one kept me glued to the page througout half the night with it's sarcastic humor and disturbing observations: The Big Lie, a propaganda technique cherished by Hitler, is alive and well and has come to new heights of perfection with the Bush administration. Beinhart makes no empty claims when he shows that clear, unequivocal and published documentation for the government's policies (and failures) exist - court rulings, official investigations, confirmed media reports, economic statistics, frank testimony from the power players about their intentions and motives - and yet, the obvious conclusions are lost in the fog, turned upside down, or remain unknow to the general population.
"Fog Facts" stands in the tradition of Noam Chomsky's poignant analyses "Necessary Illusions" and "Manufacturing Consent" as it shows by example how large scale indoctrination and the selling of obviously wrong, irrational and detrimental policies can succeed in a democratic society with a nominally free media system.
As a slow reader I appreciate how Beinhart focusses on a well selected sample of cases without getting lost in minutiae, how he keeps the writing crisp and entertaining, and the book short (187p). An index and footnotes throughout make it a valuable reference tool, and the associated website offers further material and invites readers to share their own fog facts.
So what's a citizen to do against the evils described? The book itself is an analysis, not a manual. As such it provides case studies of the major issues of recent years and provides excellent ammunition to bring reason into the discussion. But while not given explicitely, answers to the "what to do?" questions are easy to infer: Start with skepticism towards power, read watchdog sites that monitor the players and the political PR industry, and make your voice heard when politicians and the media start obscuring the issues.
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