Tragedy and Farce by John Nichols
How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy

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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 exposé and a call to action.

About John Nichols

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John Nichols is The Nation's Washington correspondent and an editor at the Capital Times. 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 a professor in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of "The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the Twenty-First Century" (Monthly Review Press), "Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times" (New Press), "Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy" (Open Media), and "Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy: The Battle for the Control of U.S. Broadcasting" (Oxford University Press).
Published November 3, 2005 by New Press. 192 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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the old if-it-bleeds-it-leads doctrine gives way to class-war cheerleading, as the press chases after what the ABC brass instructed its reporters to do: “focus on personalities, pop culture, and ‘big gets,’ ” which means heavy coverage of things like Michael Jackson’s trial and Winona Ryder’s sho...

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