Book news and media campaign coverage

New examples of the media dynamic examined in "Great American Hypocrites" emerge literally on a daily basis.


Glenn Greenwald
April 2, 2008 8:51PM (UTC)

(updated below)

Several matters to note relating to Great American Hypocrites and several of the media issues it covers:

(1) I'm in the process of finalizing numerous book events for the weeks of April 14 and 21, which will include visits to, at least, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, and Miami. There are a couple of events that are already confirmed that I wanted to note.

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On Wednesday, April 16, at 7:00 p.m., I'll be at Olsson's Bookstore-Dupont Circle, in DC. There will be numerous DC-area bloggers and others attending as well, and, following that, there will likely be a book-related event somewhere nearby.

On Thursday, August 17, I'll be at the University of Maryland-College Park, for a speech sponsored by The Project on Religion, Culture, and Globalization, American Studies Department. It's open to the public and I'll post more details as the date approaches.

(2) The book is currently #3 on Amazon's Non-Fiction List, and #11 overall. There will be several excerpts published over the next week or so and that should help to maintain the book's visibility prior to its April 15 release date. For a variety of reasons, even very well-performing political books that are perceived as critical of the establishment press and/or perceived as "blogger" books receive far less media attention than books by establishment pundits that perform far worse. So one has to find ways to achieve visibility for the book and its arguments without relying on the book's targets in the establishment press.

(3) One of the principal topics of the book is the media's hero-worship of right-wing leaders generally and their profound reverence for John McCain specifically. A couple of days ago, I recorded a Bloggingheads TV session with Ana Marie Cox of Time regarding the media-McCain relationship and how it affects political coverage. It is now posted and can be viewed here.

The discussion started off somewhat slowly, became more interesting and constructive in the middle when we discussed the recent coverage (more accurately, non-coverage) of McCain's attempt to link Al Qaeda to Iran, and then took a somewhat strangely acrimonious turn towards the end when Cox began arguing that mean, unreasonable liberal bloggers and commenters are making the job of the journalist (i.e. her) excessively difficult and unpleasant (she'd likely object to whatever paraphrase of her argument I offer, so those interested should watch to hear it directly from her). What I found most interesting about the whole exercise is that Cox -- as she continuously denied that the media's affection for McCain skews its coverage of him, and further denied that excessive socializing among reporters makes them less adversarial -- went to great lengths repeatedly to defend both McCain and her journalistic colleagues.

(4) One of the difficulties I had in finishing the book was that, as the campaign progressed, more and more examples of the book's central arguments would emerge, and I'd want to extend the deadline in order to include them. That continues to happen even as the book is about to be released.

A couple of days ago, Joe Scarborough mocked Barack Obama as "dainty" and "prissy" because of the way he bowled. One can virtually guarantee there will end up being far more media discussion of Obama's bowling methods than there will be of Michael Mukasey's extraordinary lie-filled speech last week about 9/11 or John Yoo's Torture Memo (Olbermann covered the Mukasey story last night -- video here -- but no other television show and virtually no major newspaper has).

Today, as Will Bunch of The Philadelphia Daily News notes, Maureen Dowd provides yet another perfect illustration of one of the book's principal themes by writing yet another column depicting Obama as a soft, "effete" girl and Hillary as a tough and manly presence teaching Obama how "to prove he's ready to stare down Ahmadinejad." By stark contrast, outlets like NPR continue to churn out mindless hero-worship pieces on McCain (h/t reader ch), celebrating him as a man whose bipartisan courage is matched only by his sense of honor and patriotism. As I write in the book:

Central to the right-wing myth-making machine is the depiction of their male leaders as swaggering tough guys in the iconic mold of an American cowboy and brave, steadfast warrior. . . . .

Vital to this masculinity marketing campaign is the demonization of Democrats and liberal males as weak, sniveling, effeminate, effete cowards -- spineless little creatures whose cowardice and lack of manliness make them laughingstocks. While right-wing leaders are the football players and swaggering tough guys, liberal males are the glasses-wearing nerds, the woman-controlled, gender-confused, always-vaguely-gay losers who are as feminine and weak as their woman are masculine and threatening.

The endless media giggling over Obama's dainty, prissy, gay bowling methods -- and Dowd's column featuring Obama's femininity and his harsh, controlling wife -- has every one of these petty, trite and deceitful themes that are hauled out every four years. And, as the NPR piece illustrates, all of that will contrast perfectly with McCain's visit this week to the Naval Academy. The script is so deeply rooted that they can follow it without thinking, which is how they like it.

(5) Several bloggers yesterday who have received advance copies of the book and began reading it wrote about it yesterday -- including Matt Stoller, Digby, and Jane Hamsher. The Library Journal Political Roundup has reviewed the book for librarians (not online) and says -- amusingly, in my view -- the author is "caustic but supports his points with sound research. The results may well have appeal in public libraries."

UPDATE:

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(6) Jane Hamsher adds some additional thoughts about the importance of being able to compete with the right-wing noise machine when it comes to books and other means of disseminating political ideas.

(7) And speaking of themes that centrally relate to Great American Hypocrites, super tough guy/war cheerleader Michael Goldfarb of the The Weekly Standard labeled my post from earlier this morning on John Yoo's Torture Memo "self-righteous lefty demagoguery" (people who oppose torture are leftists, of course) and swaggered up and said this:

I haven't really been following this issue, mostly because I'm pretty sure that whatever the government is doing to these terrorists wouldn't "shock my conscience." Like my man Scalia says, sometimes you're going to have to take these terrorists and "smack them in the face." But, some folks are more easily shocked than I am, and they are in full moral outrage mode this morning with the release of a 2003 memo by John Yoo (now a professor at Berkeley!) approving "harsh interrogation techniques." Oh, the humanity!

The Churchillian toughness oozes off the page. Harper's Scott Horton today posted a photograph of the casual, civilized, mild "face-smacking" that Yoo's memo led to at Abu Grahib:

But warriors like Goldfarb could endure such treatment easily, without batting an eye, so they don't see what all the fuss is about. It's just some manly playfulness that would never upset real warriors like him and his boss, Bill Kristol. They're far too tough and hardened to the gritty realities of Civilization Wars (which they watch with Churchillian relentlessness on the TV) to get upset by a little "face-slapping" and "torture." Let's get back to the fun, invigorating war cheerleading.


Glenn Greenwald

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