Every American should read this book.
For some time now authors Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber have conducted investigative reporting via their books (Trust Us, We’re Experts and Toxic Sludge is Good For You) and their Web site (PRWatch.org) to expose how government agencies have worked to manipulate public opinion through subtle yet thorough infiltration of the news and entertainment media. Their latest book lays bare the massive propaganda campaign carefully orchestrated by the current administration since September 11, 2001. These astute political sleuths shine the big spotlight on Bush’s recent preemptive invasion of Iraq, showing how the administration used whatever means necessary to justify it, including half-truths, misinformation, misrepresentation, outright lies and a dash of neo-McCarthyism.
Of course, for many of us, not much of this is news. Rampton and Stauber go further by carefully dividing their allegations into stages of a giant marketing and PR campaign, beginning with the attempt to globally position the US as “Brand Freedom.” They devote entire chapters to the use of the news and entertainment media as a vehicle for a “war means peace” marketing theme. They go in depth into the kinds of deception, doublespeak and use of selected information the administration has employed to maintain public support. Then there’s the fear factor; they analyze the administration’s use of periodic Terror Alerts that render the public more frightened than prepared and pressure tactics that encourage good behavior and label any opposition as “unpatriotic” and “helping the terrorists.”
The authors’ tone throughout is professional and a smart read; one of analysis rather than accusation and sometimes resembles a marketing thesis more than investigative journalism. Specific occurrences of spin from public statements and press conferences by officials such as Bush, Fleischer and Rumsfeld are thoroughly compared with well-researched facts from news sources and official reports (the last quarter of the book is a detailed list of all of their sources). The result is a realistic, compelling and absolutely frightening revelation of how the motivated and powerful few have completely sold the US their proverbial “Baghdad Bridge.”