Synopses & Reviews
Bestselling authorities on the media analyze recent election coverage and its contribution to the decline of American democracy.
A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both.--James Madison, 1822
James Madison's worst fears were realized in 2004, when voters in a popular election lacked popular information and the means to acquire it. More than anything John Kerry, George Bush, or even Karl Rove did, the media's miscoverage of the campaign decided the election. Most disturbingly, the problems with the election coverage reflect long-term problems with U.S. journalism.
John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney, two of the country's foremost media analysts and founders of the national media reform group Free Press, dissect the troubling trends in journalism that surfaced in 2004--the decline in resources and standards for political journalism and the organized campaign by the political right to control the news cycle. They show how government decisions made without the informed consent of the American people have led to a media system that undermines democracy.
Including newsmaking interviews with John Kerry, Howard Dean, Barack Obama, and other key players in the political process, this book is both an expose and a call to action.
"We need McChesney and Nichols desperately. Their book is a lifeboat for surviving the burst dam of bullshit called ‘American media.’" —Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
"If we want a media that matters again, we have to build it from the ground up. Nichols and McChesney point the way. Let’s act." —Jim Hightower
"Good fuel for progressive responses to the Fox cabal." —Kirkus Reviews
Two of the country's foremost media analysts and founders of the national media reform group Free Press dissect the troubling trends In journalism that surfaced in 2004. This book is both an expose and a call to action.
Thomas Frank called Tragedy and Farce “an appeal to reason in a dark time.” Including the sharpest analysis of 2004 election coverage yet and the first detailed look at the burgeoning media reform movement, this book is both an exposé and a call to action. In it John Nichols and Robert McChesney—two of the country’s leading media analysts—argue that during the 2004 election and throughout the Iraq war and occupation, Americans have been starved of democracy’s oxygen: accurate information. More than anything John Kerry, George Bush, or even Karl Rove did, the media’s miscoverage of the campaign and war decided the election. Most disturbingly, the flawed coverage reflects new, structural problems within U.S. journalism.
Tragedy and Farce dissects the media failures of recent years and shows how they expose the decline in resources and standards for political journalism—as well as the methodical campaign by the political right to control the news cycle. In our highly concentrated media system it has become commercially and politically irrational to do the kind of journalism a self-governing society requires.
About the Author
John Nichols is The Nation
’s Washington correspondent, an editor at the Capital Times
, and is co-founder of the national media reform organization Free Press. He is the author of The Rise and Rise of Richard B. Cheney
and Jews for Buchanan
. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C.
Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of some two dozen books on media and political economy, including Digital Disconnect, Communication Revolution, and the award-winning Rich Media, Poor Democracy; a co-author, with John Nichols, of Tragedy and Farce; and a co-editor, with Ben Scott, of Our Unfree Press, and, with Victor Pickard, of Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights (all published by The New Press). McChesney and Nichols are also the co-authors of the award-winning Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America. McChesney’s work has been translated into thirty-one languages. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, and Madison, Wisconsin.