Students of modern American politics and the sociology of communication will find this provocative, worthy reading.

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THE RADIO RIGHT

CREATING THE SILENT MAJORITY

A scholarly but accessible account of how John F. Kennedy’s administration’s battle against right-wing critics paved a path for the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and their ilk.

Censorship is widely understood to be something that right-leaning institutions and corporations do to left-leaning critics. However, as Cato Institute staffer Matzko writes, in the case of radio bloviators such as Carl McIntire and Billy James Hargis, the roles were reversed. The story turns on the opening of the AM spectrum to syndicators at a time when formerly dominant networks such as CBS switched their attention to TV. Into the gap came right-wing commentators who set to work denouncing liberalism, Cold War accommodationism, and Kennedy’s Catholicism—all of which required payback. Matzko attributes the rise of these nationally syndicated programs, in part, to the ability to take local protests national: A Miami boycott of Polish (and therefore communist) ham went nationwide almost overnight thanks to relentless promotion by McIntire, a New Jersey–based fundamentalist preacher who, over several years in the 1960s, “averaged $2,040,000 in annual receipts”—about $16.8 million today, chump change compared to what his modern counterparts earn but still substantial. The Kennedy administration employed tools such as IRS audits and FCC regulations to crack down on right-wing dissent, guided by the Reuther Memorandum. The selective use of the since-abandoned Fairness Doctrine, which required stations broadcasting McIntire’s “20th Century Reformation Hour” to devote equal time to opposing viewpoints, helped bring down that syndicated program. (When it ended, McIntire attempted to broadcast offshore, which lasted a single day.) Apart from telling this little-known story, Matzko argues, reasonably, that the actions of the Kennedy administration helped reinforce grievances “about the perceived liberal domination of the mainstream media,” complaints about which are the bread and butter of the right even today.

Students of modern American politics and the sociology of communication will find this provocative, worthy reading.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-007322-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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