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Publisher's Summary

Is social media destroying democracy? Are Russian propaganda or "fake news" entrepreneurs on Facebook undermining our sense of a shared reality? A conventional wisdom has emerged since the election of Donald Trump in 2016 that new technologies and their manipulation by foreign actors played a decisive role in his victory and are responsible for the sense of a "post-truth" moment in which disinformation and propaganda thrives.

Network Propaganda challenges that received wisdom through the most comprehensive study yet published on media coverage of American presidential politics from the start of the election cycle in April 2015 to the one-year anniversary of the Trump presidency. Analyzing millions of news stories together with Twitter and Facebook shares, broadcast television, and YouTube, the book provides a comprehensive overview of the architecture of contemporary American political communications. Through data analysis and detailed qualitative case studies of coverage of immigration, Clinton scandals, and the Trump Russia investigation, the book finds that the right-wing media ecosystem operates fundamentally differently than the rest of the media environment. 

The authors argue that longstanding institutional, political, and cultural patterns in American politics interacted with technological change since the 1970s to create a propaganda feedback loop in American conservative media. This dynamic has marginalized center-right media and politicians, radicalized the right wing ecosystem, and rendered it susceptible to propaganda efforts, foreign and domestic. For listeners outside the United States, the book offers a new perspective and methods for diagnosing the sources of, and potential solutions for, the perceived global crisis of democratic politics.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Network Propaganda

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    3 out of 5 stars

Biased biased biased

I’m sure the authors have done some rigorous research. That said, their presentation of their findings is so unbelievably biased that it undermined much of what they were saying. Much of what they attribute to the ring wing media is not well acknowledged when mirrored on the left. That said, much of what they present makes sense, especially when taken with Jonathan Haidt’s work. Would have been nice if they had expanded their research to alt media sources in a significant way. There is much to find in the right of center media landscape. They just didn’t know where to look.

9 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

Sad.

Hard to take this book seriously when the authors compare Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Infowars and the Gateway Pundit to the once prestigious CNN, NPR and BBC.

7 people found this helpful

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A detailed breakdown of the US media landscape

Let's get one thing out of the way first - this book is not biased. At least, not deliberately so. The authors have made every effort to be scientific in their methods and avoid their personal biases seeping into their work. This is more than can be said for those in the review section who are attacking the work for bias - these people have bought into the partisan game and can't accept that it is they, and not the rest of the world, who are letting their personal feelings cloud their judgement.
However, being unbiased does not mean the authors are obliged to give equal credibility to, for example, the Washington Post and Info Wars, where one news source adheres strictly to the journalistic method while the other peddles in fiction, repackaged foreign government propaganda and snake oil.
What makes Network Propaganda worth reading is the lengths to which the authors go in order to trace news and information back to their sources and identify where in the communication pipeline facts are being distorted. They also challenge some common beliefs, which I had also held, about the role of social media and the Internet in the spreading of disinformation for political effect during the 2016 US Presidential Election.
If I had one criticism; I would have been interested to see some exploration into the role unconscious bias plays in all of our understanding of the information presented to us. But perhaps this is simply outside the scope of the authors' expertise and not covered in their studies.
Ultimately, if some of the information presented here cuts a little close to the bone for you, then you're reading the right book.

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That was really REALLY good.

This is a wonderful overview of our current epistemic crisis. It is balanced and well constructed. 💯

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Compelling

I see other reviewers saying the book is biased. Honestly, I can’t tell. I’d have to independently verify all of the claims and read the research presented myself. If you assume they’re not lying about the data it’s a very compelling picture of polarization, how we got here and how we return to sanity (or perhaps find sanity for the first time).

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Good book, good performance

Probably the best analysis of our current political moment I've read/heard in recent years. Performance is pretty good and the performer is clear and articulate even at high speed.

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  • M M
  • 04-03-22

Biased misinformation - propaganda in itself

An opportunity to give a fair account of how propaganda affects modern society has been missed here. The authors have clear left leaning political biases that they cannot get over as the book is a continuous poke at anything other than left wing organisations. Categorising the so-called two media ecosystems as either 'right wing' or 'pretty much everything else' ignores the reality of most media outlets having some form of bias built into their operating model - something that they cannot avoid due to their sponsors and other financial backers using them as information operation tools.
This book itself is a source of blatant misinformation and relies on the reader being naive or happily biased, so my search for fairer work on this subject continues.