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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media [Paperback]

Edward S. Herman , Noam Chomsky
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 15 2002
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 media’s 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 media’s 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 media’s handling of the protests against the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund in 1999 and 2000, and the media’s 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.

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From Amazon

An absolutely brilliant analysis of the ways in which individuals and organizations of the media are influenced to shape the social agendas of knowledge and, therefore, belief. Contrary to the popular conception of members of the press as hard-bitten realists doggedly pursuing unpopular truths, Herman and Chomsky prove conclusively that the free-market economics model of media leads inevitably to normative and narrow reporting. Whether or not you've seen the eye-opening movie, buy this book, and you will be a far more knowledgeable person and much less prone to having your beliefs manipulated as easily as the press. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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 propagandisticthe 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. For example, the authors maintain that "it would have been very difficult for the Guatemalan government to murder tens of thousands over the past decade if the U.S. press had provided the kind of coverage they gave to the difficulties of Andrei Sakharov or the murder of Jerzy Popieluszko in Poland." 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. First serial to the Progressive.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
If you're looking for a very scholarly and academic review of this book thats laden with a bunch of big words, etc., read one of the other reviews.
This is for the interested kid or student or person inclined towards radical politics who maybe doesn't have a Phd degree, or who doesn't sit around discussing the scholarly implications of books for the sake of showing off their superior intellect.
First of all, don't be scaired by the 400 pages of the book. Its actually just barely above 300, with about 100 pages of appendixes and footnotes.
It is a very readable book for anyone who has at least a vague idea of recent world affairs (of the past 3 decades or so). And even if you don't have much familiarity, after finishing this book, you certainly will. Some parts may be a bit overwhelming, but they are few and far between.
The basic premise of the book is that the mainstream American corporate media (the big networks, the big newspapers, news magazines, etc)serve to uphold the interests of the elites in this country (political and economic). Chomsky and Herman acknowledge that we do have a "liberal" press, (what does it really mean to be 'liberal' in America today anyways?), but that the liberalness is kept within acceptable boundaries. Basically, the mainstream press may give a liberal slant on what the dominant institutions and systems are doing...but they will not question the very nature of the institutions and systems themselves.
For example, today's Los Angeles Times (January 6,2003) had a page 2 story on the U.N sanctions against Iraq. Now, the typical reader may see the story, and figure that since the LA Times is even reporting on the impact of sanctions against Iraqi civillians, this is demonstrative of their 'liberal' leanings.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky's 1988 analysis of press censorship in America, is an insightful look at the ways public opinion and choices can be molded by dominating interests in a free society. Its value lies in the model Herman and Chomsky develop and test to account for this censorship; while they limit their investigation to a few specific cases -- three 1980s Central American elections, the alleged 1981 KGB-Bulgarian plot to kill the Pope, and the Indochina Wars -- their model is testable and can be applied and modified to a variety of events.
Obviously, not all happenings in the world can fit between the covers of the New York Times. Herman and Chomsky outline five filters, interrelated to some extent, through which these events must pass in order to become newsworthy. First, huge transnational businesses own much of the media - a fact probably more true now than in 1988 with Disney, Westinghouse, and Microsoft bullying in on the news markets. The corporate interests of these companies need not, and probably do not, coincide with the public's interests, and, consequently, some news and some interpretations of news stories critical of business interests will probably not make it to press.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the US media really works Dec 5 2003
By SPM
Format:Paperback
Americans are not happy with the performance of the news media, and a number of scholars and pundits have given their two cents on the topic. Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky --- who had already given more than two cents in the past --- joined forces to write their own critique in 1988. The result (reprinted in 2002 with a new forward) is one of the most important media studies ever written.
The book comes in three sections: A propaganda model, a review of "alignment" news stories, and coverage of the Indochina wars. The propaganda model is fairly simple. The mainstream news sources are corporate entities with a set of built-in limitations. Reporters need to serve their government sources or they'll be out of the loop. Editors and owners will be watching for stories that slant the wrong way (too pro-union, for example). Meanwhile, freelance "flak" providers raise the red flag when a reporter --- or newspaper or TV channel --- is straying from the path of orthodoxy.
During the Cold War, communism was used to keep the media in line. If you stray, you might be labeled a commie or a socialist. These terms changed to "liberal" during the late 1980s (and became institutionalized in the 1990s). The words are different, but the effect is the same. Chomsky has said in interviews that the emphasis on painting reporters as "reds" was too specific --- flak doesn't have to take the form of red-baiting. (The references in the book on this topic feel a little dated.)
The second section is a collection of case studies in alignment: The media adopts a pro-US stance when covering foreign elections, demonizing official enemies, and counting victims from wars, massacres, and human rights violations.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A superlative critique of media power
Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent is not what I would consider an exciting read. Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2011 by Cornelius
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening
Is the media free? According to this book by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, it is far from free. Read more
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Ever since the term 'ideology' appears in the wake of the French Revolution its implications have haunted modernity (although an equal case could be made that it springs from the... Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by John C. Landon
4.0 out of 5 stars ignore the title, read the book
The title and subtitle are misleading: this is not a book about the impact of media on the public or about the internal structures of the media. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2004 by razetheladder
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Introduction into American Politics
This book, along with the Godfather, is what inspired me to study Political Science at UCLA. His thesis, that the American Media is a mouthpiece for corporate and pentagon... Read more
Published on Dec 10 2003 by Ron Bassilian
5.0 out of 5 stars W/ Bible & A. Miller, this should be in every American home
"This book centers in what we call a "Propaganda Model", an analytical framework that attempts to explain the performance of the U.S. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2003 by Earl Hazell
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Since the path-breaking critical analysis of modern capitalist society as ruled by the power elite by C. Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2003 by Barron Laycock
4.0 out of 5 stars good
Good book, though its as dry and flavorless as most of Chomsky's books. Lots of information.
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by P. R. Kennedy
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