A provocative mix of history, anecdote, and argument from a journalist and scholar who sees the conventions of the news business as leading to exercises of ``deceit, manipulation and exploitation.'' A former Fortune editor and corporate flack, Weaver (The Suicidal Corporation, 1987) is currently affiliated with the conservative Hoover Institution. But he owes as much to left-wing critiques of advertising-driven media as he does to right-wing arguments that reporters' reliance on ``crisis-and-emergency- response'' undercuts established authority. Joseph Pulitzer's 19th- century New York World, the first newspaper to abandon partisan ideology in order to attract a mass audience, began a trend in the media toward increasing claims of objectivity. Weaver argues that such claims, magnified by the advent of television news, require a symbiotic relationship between major news organizations and government institutions. He ably uncovers the false objectivity of news stories and shows how newspapers rely on ``scripts'' provided by newsmakers and ``pseudoevents.'' Drawing on his own experience, he shows how editors shape news and constrict reporters, and how reporters' disowning of their own politics and judgments turns them from rebels into toadies. Wanting to restore journalists to their ``true role as citizen[s],'' he offers some worthy suggestions for both the fabricators and the consumers of news: Instead of covering crises, journalists should analyze institutional action; reporters shouldn't socialize with sources; newspapers should emulate their European counterparts that have political identities; consumers should draw on a range of media, including opinion magazines and C- SPAN. Weaver's survey is incomplete (he doesn't discuss the alternative press), but he does see the media as crucial to the survival of democracy. This book should trouble the soul of any self-reflective journalist and help reframe the business of press criticism.