books book reviews

books about the news media

reviewed by T. Nelson


How the News Media Taught Us To Love Censorship and Hate Journalism

by Sharyl Attkisson
Harper, 2020, 303 pages
reviewed by T. Nelson

I n retrospect it's no great mystery why the news media would advocate censorship. Their credibility is approaching zero, so the competition from a free Internet has become a threat to them. It's a rare case when the term “existential crisis” actually does describe something real.

Reporters think they can regain control of The Narrative by tricking the government and big business into suppressing it. Big Business is doing it enthusiastically, and government is following close behind. The people who get caught up in politics, thinking it's a fun game, are mere pawns in enriching Big Media. The purpose is not to eliminate misinformation. The purpose is to evade accountability by censoring those who challenge them so they can create propaganda instead of reporting, which is hard work.

Attkisson says it's a clever strategy: undermine confidence in the news, then demand that news be “curated” to combat “misinformation.” She says the new generation of reporters now think their job is not to report the news, but to reform society to correct injustice. If truth gets in the way, we must sacrifice truth. Of course, they blame former President Trump, but in fact their own dishonesty was an important factor in getting Trump elected. Main topics are:

Unlike other books on this topic, Attkisson gives us specific details based on her insider experience. In her previous book, she said something very wise: always ask why people are telling you what they're saying. They spike stories that conflict with their narrative and invent fake issues like the Russian collusion and (more recently) the “insurrection” to make people afraid so they trade their freedom for safety. Result: liberals, once advocates of untrammeled freedom, now oppose freedom of speech.

It's really remarkable how rapidly Americans give up their freedom. Now credit card companies won't carry out transactions if they don't agree with what you say. And look how suddenly it morphed into saying we're no longer allowed to criticize the government.

All these fake narratives of white supremacy, racism, and disinformation are now destabilizing our democracy. Attkisson doesn't give us any explanation of why the media chose these particular myths. She underestimates the influence of academia in inventing the narratives. Her constant usage of History Channel-style present tense for past events is grating. And I was left wondering whether some conservatives might also be censoring the Internet as much as liberals if they could. But her ability to investigate and document this bizarre and potentially tragic phenomenon is unsurpassed.

mar 22, 2021