In The Republican Noise Machine, David Brock skillfully documents perhaps the most important but least understood political development of the last thirty years: how the Republican Right has won political power and hijacked public discourse in the United States.Brock, a former right-wing insider and the author of the New York Times bestseller Blinded by the Right, uses his keen understanding of the strategies, tactics, financing, and personalities of the American right wing to demonstrate how the once-fringe phenomenon of right-wing media has all but subsumed the regular media conversation, shaped the national consciousness, and turned American politics sharply to the right.
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) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 12, 2005
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Excerpt from The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock
THE REPUBLICAN NOISE MACHINE
SINCE DEFECTING FROM THE REPUBLICAN PARTY in the latter half of the 1990s and publishing a confessional memoir in 2002, I've discussed my right-wing past with politicians, political activists and strategists, academic scholars, student groups, fellow writers, and hundreds of readers of my book Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. I'm rarely asked anymore why I changed, or about the baroque intricacies of the anti-Clinton movement, which I once participated in and then renounced and exposed. After a presidential election decided by the Supreme Court, the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, and the war with Iraq, politics has moved to a different place.
Nowadays, when I talk about Blinded by the Right, people want to know not how I was blinded by the Right, but how so much of the country seems to be in that position. For the first time since 1929, the Republican Party controls all three branches of government. Fewer people identify with the Democratic Party today than at any time since the New Deal. Conservatism seems the prevailing political and intellectual current, while liberalism seems a fringe dispensation of a few aging professors and Hollywood celebrities. People ask me, a former insider, how the Republican Right has won political and ideological power with such seeming ease and why Democrats, despite winning the most votes in the last three presidential elections, seem to be caught in a downward spiral, still able to win at the ballot box but steadily losing the battle for hearts and minds.