cover image THE REPUBLICAN NOISE MACHINE: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy

THE REPUBLICAN NOISE MACHINE: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy

David Brock, . . Crown, $25.95 (432pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-4875-5

The author, once notorious as a conservative attack-journalist trashing the likes of Anita Hill and the Clintons, repudiated his past in the confessional Blinded by the Right . In this blistering j'accuse , Brock mounts a less gossipy and more systematic assault on the right-wing media juggernaut of think tanks, publishers, talk radio shows, Web sites and cable networks. He treats it as a disciplined political movement, inspired by Communist subversion techniques, bankrolled by a handful of right-wing zillionaires through corporate and foundation spigots, tightly yoked to the Republican policy agenda and masterminded by arch-conservative Grover Norquist at weekly strategy meetings. By Brock's account, it constitutes a seamless propaganda machine conveying dubious scholarship, Republican talking points and antiliberal smear campaigns from think tanks and Internet rumor mills to the FOX News and talk radio echo chambers and thence through a network of conservative pundits into the quality press. Meanwhile, Brock charges, the mainstream media, cowed by spurious charges of "liberal bias," have abandoned their role as objective arbiters of truth in favor of an uncritical airing of partisan ideology in the name of "balance." The result, he says, is a public discourse in which the line between fact and opinion is blurred, poorly funded liberal voices get shouted down, "no issue can be honestly debated and no election can be fairly decided." Brock's critique echoes that of other liberal media critics like Eric Alterman and Al Franken, and cannot be accused of nonpartisanship. He is dismissive of the conservative nostrums whose purveyors he pillories, and his biting takedowns of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and their ilk show he hasn't lost his taste for blood. But Brock's incisive, well-supported analysis and his street cred as an apostate from the conservative press make this a spirited challenge to the contemporary mediascape. (May 18 )