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Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth Hardcover – Aug 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1 edition (Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312315600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312315603
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,750,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Arynth VINE VOICE on 12 Jun. 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is one of several books which make up a recent backlash against right-wing propaganda in the United States. Authors such as Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly. The central argument of this book essentially follows that, contrary to the arguments of aforementioned authors and their ilk, there is no such thing as a "Liberal Media Bias" in the United States and, instead, there is a definate right-wing bias. So how does his theory pan out?
Well, I, for one, was quite convinced. He points out that whilst the Right-wing constantly complain about a liberal media bias that:
1) All forms of the media jumped all over the Bill Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. They engendered and continued the painful and unnecessary scandal.
2) Right-Wing authors' books are widespread and they have platforms to express their views all over the US.
3) The Fox News Network is currently the largest network in the US. On top of that, networks such as MBC show not "liberal" but conservative bias.
On top of that he deals with the usual economic issues: "supply-side" economics vs Tax and Spend etc. Public spending, defecits and the like feature prominently in the book. Indeed some of the figures and arguments might be overwhelming for the casual reader. It is worth, perhaps, searching wikipedia for certain economic terms and the history of such economics whilst reading this book.
The author brings in the various other usual suspects in the right-wing vs. liberal debate: religion, military service etc. He methodically presents the "Lies" and then counters them with what he sees as the truth.
His book is a serious effort and, therefore, may end up seeming a little dry compared with the works of Al Franken and Michael Moore.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Colin Dean on 20 Jan. 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that should be on everyone's wish list. A cool and calm description of a government who have claimed God and Flag as their own and to hell with truth, the constitution or the people. There is no ranting here, Joe Conason simply argues the case that the American "right" is out of control and chillingly exposes the lies and hypocrisy of a tiny minority of people who love power and the rewards that it brings.
Everyone in the UK should read this book. Where Bush leads Blair follows.
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29 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on 4 Oct. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Everything in this book is true.
There really is a vast right-wing conservative conspiracy dedicated to undermining the values most Americans share. Trust me.
It exists. It is dedicated to destroying the America we know, and replacing it with a command-and-control morality to be
imposed on all by the religious leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Tammy Faye Baker.
How do I know? Go to any supermarket and look at the National Inquirer or News of the World. There's a massive audience
for wacky ideas and silly publications; in every society, at least 10 percent of the population are chronic kickers and
conspiracy freaks. That 10 percent of the population is about 15 times the size of The Wall Street Journal circulation, one of
the prime right wing publications, so it's hardly surprising there's a massive audience waiting to be fed at the trough of the
right-wing propaganda machine..
Although the Journal is a profit-making operation, based on its superb and often penetrating business news coverage, the
survival of most of the right-wing zealots cited by Conason requires massive subsidies from very wealthy patrons. The New
York Times is supported by its readers and advertisers, based on the merit and truth of its news coverage; the conservative
Washington Times is supported by the Moonie Church, because it cannot otherwise attract enough advertisers or readers.
The same is true for many of the publications which make up the right-wing propaganda machine. The American people, even
that 10 percent radical right fringe which reads and listens to the conservative zealots cited in this book, do not financially
support such extremist smear tactics.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 160 reviews
85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
a book for patriot Democrats and Republicans 14 Sept. 2003
By "truthandjustice" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
He writes a book exposing lies told to all of us by mostly extreme right-wing conservatives. He is not attacking the Republican party as a whole, or the Democrat, for that matter, but certain individuals and groups. He isn't trying to say that all conservatives or liberals are bad, but there are several out there that have taken their lies so far out that they have hurt the country to the very depths of its soul. All of us have a little liberal and a little conservative in us, some a little more of one than the other. It is this small right wing group he talks of, compared to the entire country, that has turned this country upside down with their lies. He is trying to clear some of them up.
Ann Coulter is one that he exposes. Why anyone would want to believe her lies is beyond me. Her ideas are so unamerican and unchristian that it is mind boggling that they even published her book, but then you see the people who support it and her and then you get a little better idea of the brain-washing that the people are getting.
He exposes the news media for its bias and shows the relations of various owners and their blatant use of distorting the truth.
He tells about how Bush distorts the truth about taxes. How he tries to convince the average person how good a deal they are getting when the rich elite are the ones that are getting the deals. Most corporations and such do not pay the taxes that they should in the first place and then they get the big refunds. An example would be that under the Jobs Growth Tax Relief and Recconciliation act of 2003 under Section 179 expense Deduction: expense deduction was increased from 25,000 to 100,000 for 2003, 2004, 2005. That is 75,000 dollars that will not be taxed. If 100,000 take advantage of it, 7,500,000,000 dollars that will not be taxed in one year (multiply that times the actual number and it is mind boggling). How many average people can afford to spend 100,000 dollars? This is okay if your economy is in good shape which ours isn't.
Then he deals with the very people who made such a big deal about Clinton's moral misdeeds and exposes those same people who committed the same or worse moral offenses and yet had the temerity to act like avenging angels. He shows us what a lot our politicians, etc. really believe in not just their public image. I wonder how they will explain their actions when, or if, they meet God when Judgement Day comes for them. He is fighting back as we all should, against those that lie to the people who elect them.
Then he tackles the Bushes and it is not a pleasant scene. Money has been the driving force behind these people, with no regard for the average citizen. The influence of money and moneyed people have paved the way of their transgressions. He details their involvement with Ken Lay and the Enron Corporation, the one they tried to back off of when the scandal broke, but they were extremely involved with them for years. He tells of George W. stating that Ann Richards of Texas was supported by Ken Lay (He says this on Jan. 11, 2002) to mislead his connection to Ken Lay. Ann did get a campaign donation,$12,500 versus $146,500 to George W. Bush. These are the kind of tactics that they use. (If you want to more about George W., read "Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President-a book they tried to get banned and even threatened the author and his family) You Californians might be interested in how he helped Enron rip you off on energy prices during your crisis. He tells about that. He exposes one Bush transgression after another. I had to put the book down a few times to let my blood pressure drop as I read the book.
I agree with one of the other reviewers, in that, I think the reason more people haven't spoken out about all these offenses is that I don't think the people thought that anyone would believe all the crud spread around and just let it go, but now the people are up in arms, as they should be, and they are getting their act together. It is a fight that cannot be lost if we want our country to be free again like it should be. Get the Patriot Act repealed first thing and everyone get out and vote!
The book is very informative, not as entertaining as Al Franken's new book, "Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them: A Fair and Balance Look at the Right" (another book they tried to stop from being published), but it is just as important and good-an eye opener!
71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
This is a great book, and I don't say that lightly 14 Mar. 2004
By T. Tiraterra - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm a very liberal person, and agreeing with what Joe Conason has to say is a good start. However, I don't give out five starts lightly, and I'll admit that the left has its fair share of sloppy political commentators who don't check their facts often. I'm glad to say that Conason here delivers a book that is as involving and well-researched as Al Franken's "Lies", and is a must read for anyone who doesn't like the way things are going in America right now.
Like Franken, Conason spends a good deal of time attacking the right-wing media, but it's not the focus of the book. Rather, he concentrates on the hypocrisy of the "family values" Republicans, and the terrible things that George Bush has done to this country in the name of "restoring moral values" and "fighting the war on terrorism".
I think it's about time that the left fought back against the right's charges with everything we've got. It always infuriates me when the right-wingers call Democrats un-American (I love what this country's supposed to stand for) and anti-family (I love my family dearly, and want one of my own once I graduate college) simply because we believe in equal rights for all and the continuing separation of church and state. Conason hits exactly the right note here, and I highly recommend "Big Lies".
However, a disclaimer- by the time you finish this book, you will likely be very angry, as there's not as much comic relief as there was in Franken's "Lies".
80 of 88 people found the following review helpful
a great book, if you actually read it! 12 Oct. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is well worth reading and easily rises above the comments of the 'reader from San Francisco' (who seemed to think that CNN is a leftist television station because it is to the left of Bush on a few more issues than Fox is). It seems unfair to let such a lengthy attack on the book go unanswered, so here goes:
1)If the commentator truly wishes to see the extent of the falsity in Bernard Goldberg's _Bias_, then he ought to read Eric Alterman's _What Liberal Media?_. Presumably, with this excellent refutation of Goldberg's canards already on the market, Conanson deemed it unnecessary to devote much space to this issue. But I'd be surprised if any open-minded person could give any credit to Goldberg after reading both his book and Alterman's.
2)Conanson's claims about Clinton's more aggressive stance regarding Bin Laden are correct and well-documented. If the commentator doubts those claims, the burden is on him to show where Conanson's arguments break down. Clearly, the commentator has failed to do this: saying it's "just silly" only shows that he doesn't believe the claims made. But to doubt the conclusion to be sound without being able to find any flaws in the argument or its premises, or even to produce any counterargument, is just pigheadedness.
3)In his next paragraph, the commentator asks "how the heck can you claim that the media are owned by the corporations?", the implication being that this claim of Conanson's (which is, again, backed up very well) is ridiculous and false. But this is hardly a matter of opinion! The media outlets described _are_ all owned by corporations. That is a matter of public record that nobody -- not even the media outlets and the corporations who own them -- attempts to deny!
4)The fact that the corporate-owned media (like any other media) hand-pick their anchors, hosts, etc., and that the freedom of choice we have in deciding whom we will watch is limited to options among the choices the media giants have made, is clearly lost on the commentator. But it surely is even more foolish than this to refer to centrist stations like PBS and NPR as 'anti-government' when it is the members of the Bush administration who have made no secret about their wish to limit and dismantle the government, while those _against_ Bush almost invariably argue against his _removal_ of regulations, services, etc. on the part of the government. A government cannot be run without tax revenue, and those opposed to tax cuts are more frequently heard on NPR than on any of the other mainstream stations. Does the commentator not understand this?
5)Finally, the commentator assumes that the only 'liberal' values worth mentioning are "atheism, gay marriage, abortion on demand, and as of late, driver licenses to illegal immigrants", and seems to assume that at bottom Conanson chiefly wishes to promote these things. But that clearly shows his unfamiliarity with Conanson's book, and the fact that the commentator's idea of 'liberalism' is one defined entirely by the likes of Rush Limbaugh. 'Liberalism' is the view that freedom of choice is the (or at least a) great social good, and that we should do all we can (other things being equal) to maximize liberty for all. Now, I personally think there needs to be more to the equation than that; but what the commentator is missing is that most Americans _do_ want the _freedom_ to (among other things) choose which religion to follow, or whether to follow a religion at all, etc. Gay marriage is still controversial in some people's minds, as is the question of whether women should be allowed to go to university or whether black people are born criminals. But why should we pander to these ignorant and bigoted people? Doesn't the commentator agree that this country was founded on an ideal of freedom, and that this is something to be proud of and work toward? Would the commentator really prefer a government that interferes with consenting adults deciding to make lifelong commitments to each other, just because he personally isn't gay??
Admittedly, there is some moral controversy (as there should be) over the abortion question (though not really in the Conanson book); and I'm not at all sure where Conanson argues in favour of giving driver's licences to illegal immigrants(???). However, all this shows is that the commentator was not really familiar with the book he was criticizing.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
ESSENTIAL READING FOR ALL AMERICANS... 6 May 2004
By Larry L. Looney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...NOT just for those who consider themselves to be `liberals' or on the `left'. The `big lies' to which Conason refers in the title of his newest book are a double-edged sword. Not only has the right-wing conservative press perpetrated horrific and dangerous mistruths about the events leading up to and following the tragedies perpetrated on 11 September 2001 - they have convinced many otherwise sharp-thinking Americans that most of their countrymen adhere to the same mangled logic spewed out on a daily basis by such `authorities' as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, ad nauseum.
Conason's book is meticulously researched and annotated - and unlike his counterparts screaming like crazed harpies on the right, he actually uses reliable sources. One of the methods practiced by the conservative media is to allow one of their individual mouthpieces to put out a lie or half-truth, then everybody else in their camp begins to quote it as a source (usually well-aware of its initial inaccuracy), over and over, until its repeated enough that people actually begin to believe it. Another neat little trick is to answer the question they WISHED they had been asked rather than the one that was actually posed. Our President has become very adept at this - as his recent `press conference' will attest. Those members of the press who notice the shell game eventually give up, and the miscreant story makes its way into the `fact' column. There are notable exceptions in the press - thank heavens - such as Mr. Conason, who are determined to get the truth out there for people to read.
Those of you who might believe the line about the `liberal media' should ask yourselves a couple of probing questions. If the media is so liberally biased, you would expect that the coverage of a small story like, say, the 2000 US Presidential elections, would have been slanted so that there were more stories concerning Gore that were positive, and more stories about Bush that were negative. The facts show just the opposite. Conservatives hammer the oft-quoted statistics that show that `most reporters say they vote Democratic' - well guess what: the reporters don't control the content of the papers for which they write, the editors and publishers do - and the editors and publishers are mostly `conservatives' (a word that they actually misapply to themselves, as Conason so clearly illustrates), and the endorsements of the top newspapers in the US have become increasingly conservative over the past few elections. Why is this? It's certainly not a reflection of public opinion - endorsing and electing right-wing candidates is more in the interest of the ultra-wealthy who actually CONTROL the press. They're perfectly happy to get the tax cuts that benefit the top 1% of Americans and pay little more than lip service to those who actually WORK for a living.
It's desperately important, of course, for liberals to read this book - the information contained here is invaluable in this election year. But I would suggest that those in the middle and working class who consider themselves to be conservatives, who think that the Republicans have the best ideas about managing ANYTHING, read it as well - they might begin to get an inkling of how this shell game works. Boy, are they going to get mad - and rightfully so. No one likes to be fooled, especially about things that are as important as the economy, the environment and human rights - not to mention the WAR whose purpose seems to change as each individual card in the rickety assemblage falls out.
PLEASE read this book. Conason clearly and methodically addresses the questions I've mentioned and many others. Americans need to understand HOW the information they receive through the mass media is distorted - and WHY and BY WHOM and IN WHOSE BEST INTERESTS. Also, check out John W. Dean's WORSE THAN WATERGATE, Richard A. Clark's AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, Al Franken's LIES AND THE LYING LIARS WHO TELL THEM, Michael Moore's DUDE WHERE'S MY COUNTRY, and Craig Unger's HOUSE OF BUSH - HOUSE OF SAUD. My favorite bumper sticker that I've seen lately doesn't even mention a candidate: THE MEDIA IS ONLY AS LIBERAL AS THE CONSERVATIVE CORPORATIONS WHO CONTROL IT.
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
"Liberal" is a GOOD thing 18 Sept. 2003
By G. Willis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
According to the American Heritage Dictionary:
liberal (adj.) 1.a) Not limited to or by established, traditional, or authoritarian attitudes; free from bigotry. b) Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of others; broad-minded.
The political Right have taken this word and bastardized it, making it into something to revile. Author Joe Conason takes the word back, giving it the honor it deserves. He lets the Right-Wing's own words and deeds dispell the myths they've invented about Liberals. A quick and concise book that is well worth your time.
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