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Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (2003)
by Joe Conason
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312315600, Hardcover)Conservative talk show hosts and newspaper columnists have made an industry out of incessantly deriding the American left, citing liberals for everything from moral decay to bad economic policy to a soft approach on terrorism. Often these accusations are bound in book form and sell quite well. Only one problem, according to Salon.com and New York Observer writer Joe Conason: the charges they're leveling just aren't true. In Big Lies, Conason dissects 10 of the most persistent, and--according to him--glaringly incorrect, arguments made by conservatives. Each chapter begins with a quotation ("Liberals control the media and misuse their influence to promote left-wing politics," "Conservatives are the only true champions of free enterprise"), which is then picked apart using statistical evidence and detailed historical research and rejected. The modern right wing, in the opinion of Conason, is not the bastion of virtue and defender of the common man it claims to be. Rather, it is a calculating and shrewdly efficient group of propagandists fueled by revenues generated by a system that rewards cronyism. Granted, it doesn't take much to deflate the bombast of shrill political talk show hosts whose very living depends on making shocking accusations about public figures, a couple of raw facts usually does the trick, but Conason offers more than simple refutation, going deeper to challenge the presumptions that generate such platitudes. And he navigates a highly readable and informative writing style that feels more substantive than Molly Ivins and Al Franken but still a lot wittier than Noam Chomsky. Many of Conason's arguments, like those of his foes, naturally come down to matters of opinion, and published material can readily be found to back up nearly any perspective. Nonetheless, he presents clear and logical points, and his thinking is well supported by both the historical record and empirical data. Accusing Joe Conason of lies (of any size) would certainly be a difficult task. --John Moe
(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 06 Jan 2013 18:48:14 -0500)
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