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Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation [Hardcover]

Eric Deggans

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Book Description

Oct. 30 2012
Gone is the era of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, when news programs fought to gain the trust and respect of a wide spectrum of American viewers. Today, the fastest-growing news programs and media platforms are fighting hard for increasingly narrow segments of the public and playing on old prejudices and deep-rooted fears, coloring the conversation in the blogosphere and the cable news chatter to distract from the true issues at stake. Using the same tactics once used to mobilize political parties and committed voters, they send their fans coded messages and demonize opposing groups, in the process securing valuable audience share and website traffic. Race-baiter is a term born out of this tumultuous climate, coined by the conservative media to describe a person who uses racial tensions to arouse the passion and ire of a particular demographic. Even as the election of the first black president forces us all to reevaluate how we think about race, gender, culture, and class lines, some areas of modern media are working hard to push the same old buttons of conflict and division for new purposes. In Race-Baiter, veteran journalist and media critic Eric Deggans dissects the powerful ways modern media feeds fears, prejudices, and hate, while also tracing the history of the word and its consequences, intended or otherwise.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (Oct. 30 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230341829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230341821
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 16.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #562,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“Deggans makes a smartly presented call for more civil discourse.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Mr. Deggans writes about race with clarity and wit. He understands and explains the politics of the broadcast and cable networks and the logic of its programming decisions without letting them off the hook for falling short of their own goals.”--The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“Troubling, detailed account of race and racism in today’s media.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Eric Deggans is one of the most insightful and provocative writers about television today.  In his columns for the St Petersburg Times and his NPR commentaries, Deggans has established himself as a voice worth listening to. His many fans -- and I'm one of them -- will devour this book.”—Andy Borowitz

"If you care about this country, if you want to take part in a citizen’s movement that helps heal the deep racial, economic, and cultural divides tearing us apart, you must read Eric Deggans’ Race-Baiter. No book of recent vintage so thoroughly dissects the media’s monetized appetite for division. Provocative, honest, and smart, Race-Baiter is a supremely important book. Read it and let the conversation begin."--Connie May Fowler, Author of Before Women had Wings

“Eric Deggans proves that he is one of the most insightful and courageous writers covering today's fast-shifting media landscape. This is an important book.”—Michele Norris, NPR's All Things Considered and founder of The Race Card Project


About the Author

Eric Deggans is TV and Media Critic for National Public Radio and formerly for the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper. He also contributes to CNN.com and the Huffington Post. Deggans regularly appears as a pundit/expert on MSNBC’s “Countdown”; CNN’s “Reliable Sources”; Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” morning show and “Hannity and Colmes”; PBS’s “The NewsHour”; CNN Headline News’ “Showbiz Tonight”; “The Tavis Smiley Show” on Black Entertainment Television; and the PBS shows “Livelyhood” and “The Calling.” His work has also appeared in a host of newspapers and magazines ranging from the conservative Newsmax magazine to the Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Detroit News and Miami Herald, VIBE magazine, Hispanic magazine and Ebony magazine.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great view into journalism, media and race relations Nov. 19 2013
By Shane Tiernan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great view into journalism, media and race relations. I haven't read any other books on the subject but this seemed to be a fair assessment of what goes on "behind the scenes" and often right in front of our faces.

Mr. Deggans gives away the magician's secrets, whether those magicians are news anchors, radio talk show hosts, screenplay writers or"reality" shows actors, he tells you what to look for to understand what's really happening and how they make it look or sound like something else.

He talks about the problems people have with discussing race, suggests ways we can get past those problems. He talks about drawing attention to racism masked with key phrases and probably most importantly about talking about race before something racial explodes rather than waiting for things to explode.

Another interesting point is that "color blindness" isn't the answer because it ignores differences in culture that really do exist.

A lot of this should be in schoolbooks somewhere. Learning it when your 9 would probably be a lot more helpful than learning it when you're 39.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Race Baiter is balanced. April 9 2013
By Diane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I learned so much from this book. I was reassured by Deggans' balanced approach. His point that we the audience must demand balanced, honest, and informed journalism is well taken.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource Jan. 8 2013
By P. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those who are interested in whether the media manipulates what we think about, this is an excellent primer. Race Baiter also provides categories to evaluate media and critique content. Provides current social media as well. As journalism professor, I highly recommend.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and thought-provoking Jan. 10 2013
By peaches - Published on Amazon.com
I found this book to be thought-provoking, many times in an uncomfortable way. I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in current events and media/politics , as the author provides insight in a way that is easy to understand.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written eye-opener Nov. 3 2013
By Dirtlawyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have always suspected that publishers, producers, and similar persons selected characters that followed their visions of persons. This book confirmed my suspicion. It is well written by a very articulate author.

My only problem with the book is Deggans obvious respect for Al Sharpton, probably because Deggans is too young to remember that Sharpton himself uses race to advance his own agenda. Deggans does not mention the pogrom he started in Harlem that had a killed a couple of people. A review of the early NY Times stories on Sharpton might help.

Over all, though, the book should be read by everyone.

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