Sunday, December 25, 2005

Review: Republican Noise Machine by David Brock

The "Republican Noise Machine" by David Brock is an attempt to expose what the author feels as the right wing's media as is: a spohisticated propaganda machine. Harsh, eh? Brock goes to pretty great lenghts to prove his point.

There are a few key a parts to the story. First, the right wing has a sophisticated network of media outlets. Including, blogs, radio, TV, newspapers, books and associations. And more importantly, they are well synchronized. So a message can go from a blog, to radio, to TV to print effortlessly. Addtionally, the messages are consistent, so the media outlets reinforce each other, not cancel each other out.

Secondly, the right has made opinion, not fact, the prime goal of their media outlets. From blogs to TV, the right tends to push their message, not objective news. And of course, consumers love it - they are hearing what they want to hear, even if it's not objective, true or useful.

Thirdly, the media of the right doesn't play by the same rules as the traditional media. It's not uncommon to spread rumors or even lies, as long as the message fits with what they want to get across. In fact, Brock cites numerous examples where a well spread rumor, even when proved false, did serious damage to one of the right's opponents.

While Bernard Goldberg, in his book Bias, argues the media tilts left, he was a lot kinder to those involved. He tries to demonstrate that big TV networks lean left out of misguided ignorance or good intentions - not because of some conspircy theory. Not so, the right, in this book - the bias is real, intentional and very cleverly done.

What remains for me to see is what Brock is going to suggest we do about it. From listening, I'm starting to get my own ideas.

First, the left needs to improve their network and their ability to spread a message - any message, though ideally a positive and true message.

Secondly, I think we need to pound home to the right's constituency what is going - that they are being used. That they are being tricked into spreading lies and damaging others. The right's base need to be treated like intelligent, well meaning people who are caught up in an unfortunate use of power.

As for whether this is a good book or not, it remains to be seen. This is not a fun, or funny story. This is a serious, and sometimes overly-detailed look at a critical problem. So read it - you might not enjoy it - but still, read it.


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