Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media

Craig Crawford, Author . Rowman & Littlefield $22.95 (181p) ISBN 978-0-7425-3816-0

In 1988, Vice President George H.W. Bush successfully evaded Dan Rather's questions about his Iran-Contra affair involvement by going on the attack in a live interview on CBS. Crawford, a TV pundit and Congressional Quarterly columnist, identifies this event as the turning point in the media's relationship to both politicians and the nation. In this impassioned dissection of the rapid devolution of the media's power in today's political environment, he asserts that the public's distrust of the news media has reached at a high point, an issue he considers one of "the most hazardous political challenges now facing Americans." Politicians—liberals and conservatives alike (though Republicans bear the brunt of Crawford's ire)—have deflected criticism and convinced the public to blame the media. Though Crawford makes no startling observations or conclusions, he marshals convincing evidence for his argument, from the decline of PBS's editorial independence to the "televised smack-downs" between reporter Helen Thomas and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer during the lead-up to the Iraq War. Slim as Crawford's book may be, it does a decent job of pulling together the principal moments of the ongoing struggle between the press and the government. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
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