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Kingmaking Media
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Senator Mike Gravel and David Eisenbach
The Kingmakers (Beverly Hills:  Phoenix Books, 2008.  204p.)

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This is a competent and focused analysis of trends and patterns in the American public News Media.  Specifically considering the coverage of political events and election campaigns, the Senator finds clear patterns of myth-making and myth-breaking, which often determines and drives the news.

Poor or non-existent background research is a major syndrome Gravel documents here.  The media become simply a funnel for the story line and slogan emphases of the Administration or a particularly favoured personality.  They sift the White House party line only for the most sensational or salacious aspects.

There is not much background investigation, Gravel finds.  It should be no surprise that Gravel's excellent and readable presentation here documents the sensational celebrity-style portrayals and faddish hype in much of the supposed news of the popular media.

Despite ranting by one radical end of the spectrum or the other, Gravel's analysis shows that the American News Media do not, in fact, always favour Left over Right or vice versa.  Gravel's analysis shows that, for the most part, they actually serve as disseminators of the party line and propaganda of whatever administration is in power.

A grand example of all the media hype and repetition of the fear-mongering and international posturing of the Bush administration in whipping up fervour for the Iraq War, after an incredible non-response and indifference from the Bush White House in the early hours.

But don't think Gravel gives the Democrats a pass in his exposé of the neo-con hysteria and illogic.  He is an equal-opportunity analyst, and I appreciated his objective and focused tone.  He does not whine and complain, in the common tone we have come now to expect from the news “commentary” corps.

He does not lambast and call people distracting, derogatory and degrading names to distract listeners or readers from the actual facts of the matter, a common approach of Rush Limbaugh.

He lays everything out, Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, moderate, neo-con, New Left, whatever.  The Press are commonly not really probing for news, but pushing to get a certain angle that will capture the audience's attention.  Gravel sees that the press for commercial success and the focus on ratings creates a near-sighted agenda.  The biggest lead generation machine is the incumbent administration.

The News Media are processing their own agenda, looking for sensation, glitter, gaffe, mis-statement, and other secondary trivia.  To this end, they throw puff-ball questions to their favorites and badgering anyone handy on the fad topics of the day.

Gravel makes a credible case for created agendas, as well, where a trend or claim in national or international politics originates in their circles, then gets hyped through the “echo chamber" of the circular sourcing Media.

Whether in the end you agree with Senator Gravel's analysis, this will inform you and make for a good objective review of recent years in American national political perspective and cultural character.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] Hilarity Sounds Alarm for America
[review] Losing the Way in the Permanent Campaign

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First reading notes written 19 April 2010
Initially reviewed on Amazon 28 April 2010
This review written and posted on Thoughts and Resources 1 May 2010

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2010 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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