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All the President's Spin: George W. Bush, the Media, and the Truth Paperback – 3 Aug 2004


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Review

Jonathan Chait The New Republic A clinical, dispassionate, and intellectually bulletproof analysis of the ways President Bush has manipulated public opinion. The authors meticulously paint a troubling picture of the way our national debates function. It ought to shame the press corps into mending its ways.

Tucker Carlson CNN Politicians talk so much that hardly anyone pays close attention to what they're actually saying. Ben Fritz, Bryan Keefer, and Brendan Nyhan do, staying up late to match words with reality. It's a tough job -- imagine the migraines -- but the rest of us can be glad someone's doing it.

Neal Pollack author of Never Mind the Pollacks A chilling and comprehensive account of how the government has polluted our country with a thick mist of foul propaganda.

About the Author

Ben Fritz is a reporter for the entertainment trade paper Variety. He also edits the satirical website Dateline Hollywood (www.datelinehollywood.com) and was recently named one of the nation's top thirty business journalists under thirty. Originally from New York, Ben graduated from Swarthmore College and served for a year in the AmeriCorps* National Civilian Community Corps. He lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at ben@spinsanity.com

Bryan Keefer is assistant managing editor of Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk (www.campaigndesk.org), which monitors the media's coverage of politics. He has worked at the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union. Bryan lives in New York City, but he left his heart in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was raised. He can be reached at bryan@spinsanity.com

Brendan Nyhan is a graduate student in the department of political science at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. From 2001 to 2003, he managed new projects and later marketing and fundraising for Benetech (www.benetech.org), a Silicon Valley technology nonprofit. Brendan grew up in Mountain View, California, and attended Swarthmore College. In 2000, he served as the Deputy Communications Director for the Bernstein for U.S. Senate campaign in Nevada. In 2003, he received an Award of Distinction in the Paul Mongerson Prize for Investigative Reporting on News Coverage competition. Brendan can be reached at brendan@spinsanity.com.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 34 reviews
104 of 111 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important Addition to Debate 2 Aug. 2004
By Bozeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was surprised by this book. The most important thing to note, that you might not get from other reviews, is that this book is just as much an indictment of the media as it is an indictment of the President. Bush is presented as the ultimate spinster of course, but the media is his all-too-willing enabler. What the authors don't explicitly say, I don't think, but which they definitely imply, is that in an age where everything that Rice and Ridge and Frist and Daschle and Bush and Kerry and all the rest say, on CNN, on ABC -- anywhere -- is simply a prepared talking point that is almost always either designed to A) skirt an uncomfortable issue, or B) serve as misleading spin; in such an age purely objective journalism has to end, it is no longer enough, it is simply the enabler of democracy-destroying propaganda. To grind my own ax for a sec: who in their right mind wants to hear yet another Bush cabinet member get on CNN and say something we all know is a focus-grouped half-truth, and yet again see Wolf Blitzer accept this spin without pointing out the person's intellectual dishonesty? Who else is sick of seeing spin passed along un-commented upon in the New York Times and the Washington Post? Yet, the media wonders why so many people my own age would rather tune in to The Daily Show a day later and see Jon Stewart make fun of both the spinster, and the reporter who was nodding along.... Which viewer is actually less educated? This is a book that will hopefully do much to help correct this problem. Far more than any other book I have seen it details not only the Bush administration's spin, but also all the ways in which politics in general has become a cynical marketing campaign. It's all here, facts, citations: no spin. The authors state they have been involved in Democratic organizations, but they hit Democrats hard, too. They report, you decide.
67 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, the unbiased, non-partisan account we've needed 9 Aug. 2004
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the definitive book of the year to counter political propaganda, equivocation and dishonesty. The authors run the definitive anti-spin, non-partisan website that is growing in popularity and is long overdue as a source of truth in today's ridiculously self-serving political arena. To know the source of this book (see spinsanity.com) is to appreciate the merciless and noble pursuit of truth. No person nor his ideology is spared critisism. From Bush, O'reilly and Hannity on the far right to Moore on the far left, half-truths, out-right lies and distortions are exposed, explained and corrected.

This book is a continuation of this pursuit of truth regardless of party affiliation or ideology. Unlike many other Anti-Bush books, this book is not biased and has no partisan agenda. Indeed the book even goes after Kerry to let readers know what the real message is: Politicans twist and select facts to promote a cause and counter an opposing one. Unfortunately for Bush, he has inadvertently set himself up as a prime target. The book goes after the Bush lies without embellishing or exaggerating and does likewise with Kerry in so far as is possible at this point.

Personally, I hope this book helps to further promote truth in politics, to encourage partisan readers to re-elvaluate their blind loyalty and most of all, to push the general public to DEMAND better information from candidates and the general media which, as the book points out, is a guilty party in aiding and abetting through sheer laziness and profit potential thru sensationalism.

This book is an invitation to the real no spin zone and it isn't pretty. Blind partisan fanatics would do well to learn the reality behind the rhetoric which drives their blind support.
50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fair, informative book! Propagandists Beware! 3 Aug. 2004
By Michael Fourdraine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book coldly and logically put what I have felt and suspected of our gov't and media for some time into an undeniable limelight. This book reveals the new methods used on the media by PR centric Politicians to "Spin" issues till unrecognizable, undebateable non-issues.

Sparing their readers from Michael Moore or Ann Coulter styled rhetoric, Ben Frtz, Bryan Keefer, and Brendan Nyhan cut to the core of what may be one of the largest threats to an informed democracy.

This is a book every Poli Sci, PR, and communications major should read!
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please Read This Book Before November 2!! 5 Aug. 2004
By S. Dickerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Everybody, average voters and journalists alike, MUST read this book! Ben Fritz, Bryan Keefer and Brendan Nyhan, of Spinsanity.org, provide a valuable service in scutinizing the tactics that the Bush administration and their media machine have been using to mislead the American public, taking dishonesty to a new level. The authors, who scrupulously avoid any partisan rhetoric in their argumentation, describe in detail the tactics that the Bush team has used, the origins of these tactics, and the spurious claims that they have been used to advance. The administrations greatest hits on the truth are all there, from how they sold their tax cuts to how they sold Iraq to how they questioned the patriotism of their critics. But most importantly, the authors show how this administration's PR team has exploited the weaknesses of our national political media. These guys point out how the President and his team frame the debate by relentlessly staying on message, repeating the same talking points over and over again. To the best of my knowledge, the only other "news" organization to make an issue of this tactic is Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." That alone speaks volumes about the state of the media in America today and how the Bush team has exploited it.

This book is well written and quite accessible. A real page turner; each chapter left me wanting to know more. This book is essential reading.
47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This books is a look at how future generations will see us. 14 Aug. 2004
By R. Upton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was very interesting and insightful. Being in Marketing myself I see how politicians are using proven marketing techniques to promote their cause. It's fascinating to see how effective it has become in this age of sound bites and quick empty news stories. This book brings this all together and exposes it for what it is, a P.R. strategy that manipulates facts but still falling short of all out lying. What makes this book so timely is the current scandal with the Swift Vote For Truth ads. Once you read this book you'll look at why those ads are running and understand why and how they are effective. You are shown how it's not about the facts, but how much you can twist the facts to support your claims without lying. This book is more critical of the media and how they report these stories than any specific politician. The writers do a great job showing examples of how this has been used though out the past administrations and how it has been honed to the crafted tool we see everyday on cable and network TV. I can understand that there are those who think this is an anti-Bush book, but I didn't see any lies on behalf on the writers, I see well researched facts that support their views. It becomes clear that politicians understand that this is how politics work and use it to their advantage. We the people are only now starting to see how we are manipulated by both the press and the politician. I can see in the future a marketing or pubic relations class on how these techniques controlled the world and how they used it. This book is simply talking about what both sides have discovered and are using. They simply point out that the Bush administration is the best and most effective at it. Don't knock the messengers for saying how it is, if anything, you can learn and understand how the media and politicians are controlling this country. I can guarantee that once you read this book you will never watch the news the same again.
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