Synopses & Reviews
In this pathbreaking work, now with a new introduction, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky show that, contrary to the usual image of the news media as cantankerous, obstinate, and ubiquitous in their search for truth and defense of justice, in their actual practice they defend the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global order.
Based on a series of case studies including the medias dichotomous treatment of worthy versus unworthy victims, legitimizing and meaningless Third World elections, and devastating critiques of media coverage of the U.S. wars against Indochina Herman and Chomsky draw on decades of criticism and research to propose a Propaganda Model to explain the medias behavior and performance. Their new introduction updates the Propaganda Model and the earlier case studies, and it discusses several other applications. These include the manner in which the media covered the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent Mexican financial meltdown of 1994-1995, the medias handling of the protests against the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund in 1999 and 2000, and the medias treatment of the chemical industry and its regulation. What emerges from this work is a powerful assessment of how propagandistic the U.S. mass media are, how they systematically fail to live up to their self-image as providers of the kind of information that people need to make sense of the world, and how we can understand their function in a radically new way.
"Herman of Wharton and Chomsky of MIT lucidly document their argument that America's government and its corporate giants exercise control over what we read, see, and hear. The authors identify the forces that they contend make the national media propagandistic the major three being the motivation for profit through ad revenue, the media's close links to and often ownership by corporations, and their acceptance of information from biased sources. In five case studies, the writers show how TV, newspapers and radio distort world events....Such allegations would be routine were it not for the excellent research behind this book's controversial charges. Extensive evidence is calmly presented, and in the end an indictment against the guardians of our freedoms is substantiated. A disturbing picture emerges of a news system that panders to the interests of America's privileged and neglects its duties when the concerns of minority groups and the underclass are at stake." Publishers Weekly
"The overstatements and the weakness in the 'propaganda model' that the authors try to construct are unfortunate, because many of the book's raw-data comparisons are compelling indictments of the news media's role in covering up errors and deceptions in American foreign policy of the past quarter-century." Walter LaFeber, The New York Times Book Review
"The chapters do not all work equally well. In the case of Vietnam, especially, Herman and Chomsky are let down somewhat by their naive view that the factual record speaks for itself; though their analysis of the record is impeccable, and badly needed, they seem not to grasp that the U.S. case in Vietnam has an alleged moral and geopolitical justification independent of 'facts' about who invaded whom first and similar questions....Overall, though, Manufacturing Consent succeeds both as brilliant set pieces of reportage, and as a devastating indictment of the 'free press.'" Philip Green, The Nation
"Manufacturing Consent really is a conspiracy theory....Any kind of political murder committed by the left is condemned, a little perfunctorily, and then compared with the much greater and more outrageous 'mass-murder,' 'sadism,' and 'genocide' committed by the United States and its right-wing allies. All this is delivered in the leaden prose of a sectarian tract....What [they] are right about is that the big-time American press does operate within a fairly narrow range of assumptions, and that it...tends to...reflect what Herman and Chomsky, meaning to be withering, call 'patriotic premises.'" Nicholas Lemann, The New Republic
About the Author
Edward S. Herman is Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Noam Chomsky is Professor, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.