Manufacturing Consent is a classic in the area of media bias. Almost thirty years ago, Chomsky and Herbert identified, and then found ample evidence to support, a clear pattern of biased reporting in the US mainstream media. Step by step, they reveal how the media and the US government carefully limited and/or slanted information released to the public to ensure a specific narrative.
This isn’t news to me (wordplay intended), so I really didn’t feel the need to finish this particular book. However, for those still under the misapprehension they can trust what passes for news in the US these days, it is a must-read. The “did not finish” rating is simply to ensure those reading this review are aware of the above.
We are being lied to. We are being manipulated. It isn’t an accident. That Donald Trump received more than 20 times the amount of news coverage as Bernie Sanders is indicative of just how pathetically the “news media” have become purveyors of “infotainment.” That Sen. Sanders’s opponent in the Democratic race received ten times as much as he did is media manipulation.
At the time this book was written, and even when it was updated, there was no social media. The mainstream media were able to brainwash—and there is no other word for it—with impunity in 1988; in 2016, there are literally millions of people ready to call them out.
That doesn’t mean we can relax. There are as many people online who have an agenda as there are in the media, and there are far too many people who lack the necessary level of professional journalism skills purporting to report the news. The important lesson to take away from this book is that we need to be aware there are powerful interests who want their message to govern what we think and how we act. It’s up to us to develop the necessary critical thinking skills to keep it from working.