cover image Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another

Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another

Matt Taibbi. OR Books, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-949017-25-0

This pox-on-both-their-houses screed from Taibbi (The Great Derangement) posits that the mainstream media stokes dopamine-pumping fury rather than reporting on depressing truths such as systemic inequality. Acknowledging that his book is “more confessional than academic study,” Taibbi vents about what he believes are journalists’ lazy assumptions, clichés, and elitism. One of his primary arguments—that TV news is a vast wasteland of stories that are at best trivial and at worst fuel anger about “someone else”—is powerfully and cogently rendered. Effectively skewering the tribal-panic approaches of both Fox’s “rectum-faced blowhard” Sean Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, he inverts the old media dictum of Noam Chomsky (whom he interviews at length here) to “manufacturing discontent.” A longtime campaign road reporter, Taibbi shares stories about how he sees journalists’ vapid cynicism skewing election coverage by discussing vagaries like “electability” while studiously avoiding substantive talk about policy. Despite occasionally veering off his main thesis into less focused complaints, Taibbi incisively details how herd mentality led to media acceptance of the WMD narrative behind the Iraq War in 2003, and calls to task such reputable editors as Judith Miller from the New York Times, the Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt, and the New Yorker’s David Remnick. The result is a smart dissection of a grim media landscape. (Oct.)