Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America

John Nichols, Author, Robert W. McChesney, Author
John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney. Nation, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-56858-707-3
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Nichols and McChesney (coauthors of The Death and Life of American Journalism and cofounders of Free Press, a media reform group) are both despairing and hopeful in this incisive account of what they see as corporate America’s hijacking of the election process. While the $10 billion spent in the 2012 presidential election was unprecedented, America’s plutocrats have long been determined to make their vote count. Though contesting this trend is a deeply rooted American tradition, it’s troubling to read about dismantled restrictions against corporate dominance, beginning with Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell who, in 1978, laid the groundwork for the problematic 2011 Citizens United decision. As the authors note, unchecked out-of-state donations ensure that elected officials hold no loyalty to their constituents. Their examination of media involvement proves less precise. It remains unclear whether they are positing that media conglomerates collude with business by narrowing coverage in order to rake in billions in political advertising, allow advertising to drive the story, or roll over and play dead. The hopefulness here is in the authors’ prescription: encouraging the growing movement to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United; a call for more robust public broadcasting; and an appeal to make voting a Constitutional guarantee. They conclude with a fervent call to all citizens to “refuse to be ridden by a booted, and spurred favored few.” Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (June)
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