INVENTING REALITY: Politics and the Mass Media by Michael Parenti

INVENTING REALITY: Politics and the Mass Media

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A strangely argued analysis of the communications industry, based upon the author's contention that America's mass media propagate opinions and advertise for life styles as writ upon stone tablets passed down from the Mount Sinai of corporate boardrooms. To start with, Parenti uses a style of disputation reminiscent of Spiro Agnew or Edith Efron in her books about the news-twisters. But where those commentators let their logic flow to the view that the mass media are agents of a murky, pinkish plot to subvert America's morals and manners and make it safe for communism, Parenti argues that the media manipulate the public into being good little cogs in the capitalist wheel. To wit, Parenti amasses generalizations: 1) ""The media may not always be able to tell us what to think, but they are strikingly successful in telling us what to think about."" 2) ""Rather than being rational guardians against propaganda, our predispositional sets. . .may be active accomplices."" 3) ""Newspeople. . .usually concentrate on threats to the press from without, leaving untouched the question of coercion from within."" 4) ""Power is always more secure when co-optive, covert, and manipulative than when nakedly brutish.""From such precepts Parenti goes on to argue that an interlocking directorate of capitalists sitting on the boards of the major banks, corporations, networks, newspapers, and magazines secretively manipulate the media (by selective discipline of holdouts) to produce a cloned productive mentality among the media consumers. This mentality is supportive of government policies, consumeristic, and morally uptight--all to ensure the perpetuation of the economic system. Years ago, Daniel Bell opined that the cultural contradiction of capitalism was that its advertising and programming would, ultimately, create a nation of hedonists, poorly acculturated to rising with the roosters to feed the factories. That is far, far closer to the truth than Parenti's version, which tries to be The Hidden Persuaders of the year. A no-go.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's