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Part tirade, part confessional from the celebrated Rolling Stone journalist, Hate Inc. reveals that what most people think of as "the news" is, in fact, a twisted wing of the entertainment business In this characteristically turbocharged new book, celebrated Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi provides an insider's guide to the variety of ways today's mainstream media tell Part tirade, part confessional from the celebrated Rolling Stone journalist, Hate Inc. reveals that what most people think of as "the news" is, in fact, a twisted wing of the entertainment business In this characteristically turbocharged new book, celebrated Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi provides an insider's guide to the variety of ways today's mainstream media tells us lies. Part tirade, part confessional, it reveals that what most people think of as "the news" is, in fact, a twisted wing of the entertainment business. In the Internet age, the press have mastered the art of monetizing anger, paranoia, and distrust. Taibbi, who has spent much of his career covering elections in which this kind of manipulative activity is most egregious, provides a rich taxonomic survey of American political journalism's dirty tricks. Heading into a 2020 election season that promises to be a Great Giza Pyramid Complex of invective and digital ugliness, Hate Inc. will be an invaluable antidote to the hidden poisons dished up by those we rely on to tell us what is happening in the world.


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Part tirade, part confessional from the celebrated Rolling Stone journalist, Hate Inc. reveals that what most people think of as "the news" is, in fact, a twisted wing of the entertainment business In this characteristically turbocharged new book, celebrated Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi provides an insider's guide to the variety of ways today's mainstream media tell Part tirade, part confessional from the celebrated Rolling Stone journalist, Hate Inc. reveals that what most people think of as "the news" is, in fact, a twisted wing of the entertainment business In this characteristically turbocharged new book, celebrated Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi provides an insider's guide to the variety of ways today's mainstream media tells us lies. Part tirade, part confessional, it reveals that what most people think of as "the news" is, in fact, a twisted wing of the entertainment business. In the Internet age, the press have mastered the art of monetizing anger, paranoia, and distrust. Taibbi, who has spent much of his career covering elections in which this kind of manipulative activity is most egregious, provides a rich taxonomic survey of American political journalism's dirty tricks. Heading into a 2020 election season that promises to be a Great Giza Pyramid Complex of invective and digital ugliness, Hate Inc. will be an invaluable antidote to the hidden poisons dished up by those we rely on to tell us what is happening in the world.

30 review for Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Wineberg

    Matt Taibbi has discovered that news (his career) is a consumer product. Consumers choose the ones that have the features they want and stick with that brand, no matter how far from the truth it wanders. It is purely a consumer preference and does not pretend to be fair, neutral or comprehensive. That is the essence of Hate, Inc. The bulk of the book is damning journalism and reporters for not checking facts or sources, adding to the credibility crisis and hate in the field. It is an imperfect b Matt Taibbi has discovered that news (his career) is a consumer product. Consumers choose the ones that have the features they want and stick with that brand, no matter how far from the truth it wanders. It is purely a consumer preference and does not pretend to be fair, neutral or comprehensive. That is the essence of Hate, Inc. The bulk of the book is damning journalism and reporters for not checking facts or sources, adding to the credibility crisis and hate in the field. It is an imperfect book with a hugely important message. Taibbi says we used to be served a constant diet of unity and conformity. Today, it’s all about division and hate. Doesn’t matter what news network you watch; it all the same – them vs us. MSNBC is the mirror image of Fox, and neither one can be trusted for a moment. Hate, Inc. is a book for everyone, not just those who despise mainstream media. There are valuable insights into how we’ve all been fooled for decades. And despite recognizing the disease, it’s getting worse, not better. News used to be for the sake of news, but now it’s for dollars. The news department used to lose money and was a public service. Today, it is a gigantic profit center, and the news is tailored to attract and keep specific audiences. Off-topic news, other angles and other voices don’t make the cut – they risk alienating the precious audience. It’s all about reinforcing fear. Fear of the Other, fear for rights, fear for a way of life. Be afraid – be very afraid is the daily message. Keep telling people they are worse off and at risk, because it keeps them coming back for more. Taibbi got the book’s framework from reading Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman’s Manufacturing Consent. He even interviewed Chomsky to see what he thought had changed since it was published in 1988. The answer was social media, of course, which distills news, rumors and lies to single paragraphs that mislead, reinforce the worst fears and promote division. There is an odd chapter on Trump adopting a professional wrestling act stance, quoting a wrestler that what he says fits perfectly with the standard wrestling storyline. Except it often doesn’t, which is obvious in Taibbi’s telling. What he misses is that Trump is much simpler than that. As a narcissist, he must be the top story at all times. If he isn’t the top story it means outrageous tweetstorms early Sunday mornings so he can be the first topic all on the news and public affairs programs later. If there is a big event that might overshadow him personally, he will attack some reporter or national leader or make some outrageous claim or threat to make it all about himself. The hate is irrelevant. As long as they spell his name correctly, it’s all good. It’s entirely predictable, and far more consistent than the contrived pro wrestling scenario. There is an even odder chapter on sports talk radio, which adds no weight to Taibbi’s arguments. Taibbi classifies manufactured hate into ten aspects all Americans should recognize instantly: 1. There are only two ideas 2. The two ideas are in permanent conflict 3. Hate people, not institutions 4. Everything is someone else’s fault 5. Nothing is everyone’s fault 6. Root, don’t think 7. No switching teams 8. The other side is literally Hitler 9. In the fight against Hitler, everything is permitted 10. Feel superior The media have become obsessed with finding the hate nugget in every news story that comes through. One great example Taibbi cites is Trump signing a budget giving the military an extra $82 billion – more than the cost of the Iraq War during a couple of its years. What was it for? Why was it needed and why now were questions that were not asked. Instead, reporters were all over Trump slighting John McCain, whose name was on the bill. That was the headline the cable news shows and their endless boring pundits focused on the rest of the week. They ignored the real story for the hate. And Trump made it about himself again. The book is full of examples from Taibbi’s well stocked research. He devotes one chapter to the Iraq War and how the Bush administration bamboozled reporters and editorialists into claiming the war was both justified and necessary, despite the general population’s far better instincts. How journalists of all stripes focused on the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that did not exist, for months, continually falling for the Bush administration’s campaign of lies (which Taibbi documents well). How those who fell for it hook, line and sinker were only not fired, but promoted and allowed to spout their nonsense on other issues. He saves his biggest shaming for Russiagate, which took in – and likely still takes in – news media of all varieties with its complete fabrications, half-truths, unverified claims, anonymous sources, obviously insane rumors, and ulterior motives. He is especially critical of Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, who apparently bet her career on it. Taibbi is a self-confessed provocateur. He is as pointed in his writing as the people he criticizes. He says of his colleagues: “They fused simple laziness with demeaning caricatures.” And yet this is how he describes Fox’s Sean Hannity: “The rectum-faced blowhard was celebrated for his fake daily victories over the intellectual Washington Generals act that was Allan Colmes.” Spot the difference if you can. He says a lot of absurd, wild things like “Religion becomes a cult when it doesn’t allow the testing of its premises.” Or that your anger watching a political program doesn’t empower you, it “neutralizes you as an independent threat.” So there’s as much to criticize in Hate, Inc. as there is in mainstream media. He is all about the symptoms and never examines the causes. The whole reason for red vs blue, right vs left, we vs them is the two-party system that all but requires to classify everyone as one or the other. It prevents other voices in the media. There are all kinds of views that can never be aired in this atmosphere or in the USA today. Not everything is about the party, and the party certainly does not have all the answers. It was the hope and fear of the Founders that political parties would not arise in the new republic. They knew precisely, 250 years in advance, that the two-party system would result in the strangulation of their experimental new democracy. And said so, repeatedly. If you want to heal the nation, listen to the men who designed it. Ditch the parties and work on issues. Together. David Wineberg

  2. 4 out of 5

    W.D. Clarke

    If you are a friend of mine here on GR you've noticed that I tend to post a lot of (OK, way too many for sure) quotations from books that I like and admire. And while I have not done so in this case, this does not mean that I did not like or admire this book, cos I really did. It's just that I kind of already knew most of the background that the book runs through in its first half—its indebtedness to Chomsky, the liberal media's embeddedness within the neoliberal enterprise, etc., etc. So nothin If you are a friend of mine here on GR you've noticed that I tend to post a lot of (OK, way too many for sure) quotations from books that I like and admire. And while I have not done so in this case, this does not mean that I did not like or admire this book, cos I really did. It's just that I kind of already knew most of the background that the book runs through in its first half—its indebtedness to Chomsky, the liberal media's embeddedness within the neoliberal enterprise, etc., etc. So nothing "stood out" or called out to me as groundbreakingly fresh or original (or something that I will need to remember later perhaps) in the first half here. It was in the second half, though, where Taibbi really made me sit up and notice his chops, as he leaves the Chomsky-lite terrain and then gets into the weeds of some real journalism surrounding a) the media's complete loss of all credibility during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and b) the media's un-self-reflective role in creating electoral politics as we know it (as told via Taibbi's own embeddedness—as well as his own implicatedness, if that's a word—in the shitshows known as the Obama and Clinton campaigns of now-ancient-history, and especially RussiaGate, which the Liberal press would surely love to file in the Memory Hole). The book ends with two essential appendices, the first explaining why Rachel Maddow is on the cover of his book beside the cretinous, oleaginal, sycophantic, one-brain-cell bullying lizard that is Sean Hannity, and the second a pretty-OK but too-short interview with his hero, Chomsky. I would buy this book for my dad for Xmas (and start a conversation!), except it's not out in paperback yet, and our Amazon overlords want 81 USD for the hardcover. Not gonna happen*, then (it's four stars, not fourteen). I bought him Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America instead, along with something else that he'll actually (hopefully) like. PS, why does GR insist that I've read some books 2 times??!! * Edit: Amazon doesn't have it, but the paperback is available direct from OR books, https://www.orbooks.com/catalog/hate-... so maybe dad will get his copy after all—just not in time for Xmas ;(

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shane Papendorf

    Matt Taibbi's excellent book about why the press stinks, and what you should do about it: just shut it off. Life is better that way. Matt Taibbi's excellent book about why the press stinks, and what you should do about it: just shut it off. Life is better that way.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Does it make sense to be entertained while reading about all the ways in which we are screwed, utterly and irreparably?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    Love him or hate him Matt Taibbi is a gifted polemicist and when he turns his attention to a subject there is no chance he isn't going to land some blows. In this book he takes aim at the media, which he argues convincingly has dangerously polarized and warped the minds of the American public in the self-interested pursuit of attention, and thus money. The news as constructed needs conflict to sustain itself. In the absence of a permanent war with Eurasia what we have is permanent war with each Love him or hate him Matt Taibbi is a gifted polemicist and when he turns his attention to a subject there is no chance he isn't going to land some blows. In this book he takes aim at the media, which he argues convincingly has dangerously polarized and warped the minds of the American public in the self-interested pursuit of attention, and thus money. The news as constructed needs conflict to sustain itself. In the absence of a permanent war with Eurasia what we have is permanent war with each other, which various networks and factions constantly stoke. Taibbi actually makes a compelling case to just ignore the news in general – significant for someone who is technically still a journalist. A few things that struck me as true are the degree to which much news consumption seems to be about building the egos of the consumers. You are good and Group X is bad. If you're not feeling great about yourself you can comfort yourself by being reassured there is some other group of people dumbed and more depraved out there whom you can safely look down on. News outlets scour the country and the world for the most extreme examples of people engaging in bizarre or otherwise negative behavior, Whether these incidents are true or not, it's not informative in a manner that is useful to democracy. It's about making the viewer feel good about themselves in contrast to an Other, which is what gets them to keep tuning it. Donald Trump is of course the great case study in media failure, a man whose rise was arguably foreseen by Neil Postman even before the internet. There is a hilarious segment in this book comparing him to a wrestling "heel," the villain character who in the WWE skits eventually is defeated but in the unscripted reality we live in was actually able to bully his way into the Oval Office. There are some other funny skewerings of media failures and hypocrisies, as well as an interesting analysis of how moral panics are created using "folk devils" drawn from the corners of people's imaginations. It's quite damning. Taibbi really makes you hate the press, probably for the right reasons. His picture is a bit too bleak however in that it presumes there are almost no real investigative journalists left. He himself continues to write so there must be some utility in still doing it. Nonetheless this is an entertaining and enlightening polemic which everyone, including journalists, would benefit from reading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I love Taibbi's punchy style--he takes swipes at everybody and even his own reporting. This book is going to rub a bunch of people the wrong way--probably the right is going to avoid it altogether, but it'll anger the left too. He goes after Maddow and the Russiagate people in here and makes the case that it's just as dangerous as some of the stuff on the right. I don't watch TV news at all, but I have hated Russiagate and some of the Maddow takes on Trump being a puppet of the Kremlin. I think I love Taibbi's punchy style--he takes swipes at everybody and even his own reporting. This book is going to rub a bunch of people the wrong way--probably the right is going to avoid it altogether, but it'll anger the left too. He goes after Maddow and the Russiagate people in here and makes the case that it's just as dangerous as some of the stuff on the right. I don't watch TV news at all, but I have hated Russiagate and some of the Maddow takes on Trump being a puppet of the Kremlin. I think the O'Reilly's of the world are way more dangerous than Maddow, but it's all still clickbait meant just to rile viewers so they'll keep watching. The biggest danger in this sort of reporting though is that it loses sight of the big issues of inequality, corruption, corporate greed, etc. Those issues are complicated and the anchors who work for corporations have no incentives to reveal them. Taibbi's righteous indignation on these issues is warranted and satisfying.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Randall Wallace

    In this book Matt shows how the Media wants us divided - the more divided, the less power we have, the more we can be controlled and manipulated. Love your team and hate the rest. For Matt, the goal of manufacturing the new fake dissent is to crush real dissent. As long as you keep the American people despising each other, you will never get a revolution, uprising, or any structural change. Give the public binary bullshit, Democrat vs Republican, liberal vs conservative – God forbid you ever giv In this book Matt shows how the Media wants us divided - the more divided, the less power we have, the more we can be controlled and manipulated. Love your team and hate the rest. For Matt, the goal of manufacturing the new fake dissent is to crush real dissent. As long as you keep the American people despising each other, you will never get a revolution, uprising, or any structural change. Give the public binary bullshit, Democrat vs Republican, liberal vs conservative – God forbid you ever give them progressive or even anti bi-partisan permanent war ideas as a third option. Crossfire and other shows turned politics into a fight where you shouldn’t agree in order to keep the ratings up. The never/agree format became a hit. Most of America’s problems are of course systemic, and here most Americans are now focusing instead on Trump and the never/agree format. Note the pressure to hate people not institutions. Imagine for a minute a press that instead nightly covered: Mass surveillance, the Drug War, US culpability for its actions, the ethics of drone assassination, rendition, torture, or even the absence of generic drugs. Instead, you can’t sell a single story unless it’s one parties fault. You must pick a side if you want airtime – A not-so Civil War by design. Most of us liked the Daily Show because it ridiculed BOTH parties – those days are gone. Matt thinks we should just call our commentary shows Hitler vs Hitler – think of the great ratings. Both sides think the other side is as evil as can be. Meanwhile the Media ignore the 100 million eligible voters who will not vote and engage. Many Americans spend two hours a day reading only things which will reinforce their present point of view. “Accept a binary world and pick a side.” Today is not far removed from how William Buckley was famous for rationalizing “meanness as smartness”. Noam says we should focus on the collusion between both parties during the other’s worst crimes. For example, Van Jones saying the Trump “became President in that moment” when he bombed Syria. Democrats happily vote to increase Trump’s bloated military budget. The press then totally ignores the blatantly obvious voting collusion between Trump and the democrats, and concentrates on Trump snubbing John McCain. The press will never cover Africa, unless Angelina Jolie goes there. We all hear from Goldberg about the “liberal” bias of the media is the one story that the media won’t cover. Meanwhile, for thinking humans, there are millions of important stories the media won’t cover. How about white-collar crime or corporate tax evasion? How about explaining why our tax dollars are paying for our special forces to be in 75% of the world? Or why do “we have ongoing combat operations in eight nations”? Here’s a story Matt knows the media will ALWAYS run: how much we hate other. Let’s “addict people to conflict stories” and then send you to commercials about addictions (soda and shitty food). In a Sam Adams poll, more Americans “decided they would rather have a beer with a recovering alcoholic (Bush) than Al Gore”. All future Presidents will have to pass that Beer Test, who cares about their policies? Fox made “2.3 billion in profits in 2016 alone.” People do NOT turn on FOX news to hear bad news about their team. How do you control people? Fear and mistrust. How do you get Americans to fear and mistrust “the other”? Violent crime figures keep going down but the public won’t believe it; meanwhile, Gallup polls show Americans keep thinking crime is rising, no evidence ever needed. Fear and mistrust. Tune in to one side and Trump’s removal is always getting closer, tune in to the other side and Trump’s removal actually needs “a Republican Senate’s unexpected cooperation.” Before the internet one’s local paper was the only game in town but then the internet killed classified ads and so the press lost its cash cow; to get revenue the press changed for the worse. Things are only going to get worse – both sides will increase their fear & mistrust stories and our country will only get more and more authoritarian. Soon, Hugo Boss can go back to designing clothes for American fascists the way he openly did for the Nazis and entitled Americans can walk around gesturing with riding crops, saying “Vat ees thees here?” Some foreign policy facts to make our many bi-partisan warmongers smile: “Reprieve found that 1,147 people were killed by drones in efforts to kill just forty-one men”. When the mighty US went looking for Zawahiri, 76 children died in the crossfire and – wait for it – Zawahiri is still alive. What’s the defense - “I’ll bet those children were asking for it”? One report shows the death of 142 children in Pakistan by the U.S. – I can picture Jesus in heaven screaming – no doubt in joy - at our generosity – those bullets and $$$ missiles don’t just pay for themselves! As Geraldo Rivera so eloquently said, one of his favorite things to watch is “dropping bombs on bad guys.” Matt tells us, you will never hear a news show telling you “to take a deep breath and relax”. The “crawl” or “chryon” is the name of the typed content moving left to right at the bottom of our TV news screens. After decades of Manufacturing Consent, the press has taken to Manufacturing Discontent in order to preclude the idea of a popular uprising. Meanwhile, our infrastructure dissolves, and “there are entire congressional districts without a functioning maternity ward.” Rachel Maddow early in 2019 actually said with a straight face to a national audience that trusted her, “the Russians could turn your heat off at any moment”. Blatant fear mongering on BOTH sides of capitalist aisle. Note that Russiagate conspiracy pusher, the Washington Post never once “backed away from its support of the (Iraq) invasion.” As Matt says, Maddow was once “sharp and gregarious”, and now she is “a patriotic media cudgel” And pseudo-lefty David Cay Johnson said with a straight face on Democracy Now, “I think Trump is a double agent.” David and Rachel sure love their binary Kool-Aid. When your job is forcing everything into a binary view, and dividing (rather than uniting) Americans, all with no evidence, why in a Post-CSI world should anyone listen to you? Grissom & Horatio taught us to follow the evidence. For Matt, Rachel isn’t reading the news, she’s reading a demographic. Noam says to Matt that Samantha Power castigates the United States for not dealing properly with OTHER people’s crimes. Another really smart book by Matt. I’m really glad to have read it, and thought about its ideas.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Wolff

    A really great look into the failures of the media in our current landscape.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bibliomama

    His jealousy of Rachel Maddow is palpable.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David M

    Accelerated by social media, moral panic has become the last dependably profitable format of modern news reporting. I think Taibbi is really on to something here, although even he may not have been able to suspect the full implications of what he wrote. This book was published in 2019, but already seems to belong to a prehistoric era.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wick Welker

    The news is a consumer product. Told with a narrative voice rough around the edges, Taibbi gives a jabbing insider analysis of the media engine that will be thought-provoking for any partisan. While making Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" entirely thematic, Taibii gives a tirade of the false dichotomy that has been set up in news media. By giving a false sense of dissent--that the viewer or reader is getting the inside scoop about the vile "other"--the media serves as an enormous distractor to t The news is a consumer product. Told with a narrative voice rough around the edges, Taibbi gives a jabbing insider analysis of the media engine that will be thought-provoking for any partisan. While making Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" entirely thematic, Taibii gives a tirade of the false dichotomy that has been set up in news media. By giving a false sense of dissent--that the viewer or reader is getting the inside scoop about the vile "other"--the media serves as an enormous distractor to the power structures that are at play in the background. Media moguls, corporate self-interest, corporate legislation... As long as someone is focused on their hatred of Trump or the libs, they won't ever have to actually ponder the bigger problems: America is an anti-capitalisitic, anti-democratic plutocratic and imperial state (my words, no Taibbi). But you will never see these things in the headlines. One can speculate about media-elite collusion with the plutocracy, which no doubt is present. However the aim is self interest: hate sells. Hate gets eyeballs on the screens. Hate keeps you scrolling. Hate is addictive. As long as you hate your ideologically opposite neighbor more than the corporate elites, everything will hum along nicely. The constant focus on Trump's words and tweets without pithy policy analysis, has made the media a ton of money over the last four years. The truth is simple: the media absolutely loves that Trump is the president because they have something for most Americans to hate every single time they look at the news. The media is an implicit partner in the rise of Trump. For decades, the media has cultivated a cult of "likeability" or "who would you rather have a Beer with?" nonsensical Litmus tests that have absolutely no bearing on fitness for leadership. These beauty pageants gave way to the Wrestle Mania-like stage acting that welcomed Trump onto center stage. The arena was primed for a grandstander like Trump. And all those working class Americans who the media-elite has never actually cared about, gleefully voted for the racist and vitriolic man. The media started the class resentment that gave rise to a demagogue. There was a transition sometime in the 1990s from the sleepy and unified media that was trying to gobble up as much mass audience as possible to the siloed audiences where media could lean into their ideologies as much as possible. Clearly, social media and the destruction of newspaper advertising was a driver for this. Now media outlets try to heat up the ideologues as much as humanly possible by becoming more and more selective about what they report. Moral panic has become the last dependably profitable format of news making. Taibbi spends a lot of time on Trump Russiagate and how the extreme paucity of evidence of Trump actually colluding with Russia brought about unprecedented journalistic corrosion akin to the WMD nonsense of Hussein. With regards to Russian 2016 meddling, what we heard is that that 126M Americans were exposed to fake Russian Facebook accounts. What we didn't hear was the context: that exposure represented only 0.00000000024% of the Facebook content over that 3 year period. It was a drop in the bucket and the scale of the issue was likely exaggerated. Why? To keep you eyeballs on the screens for advertisers. The bottom-line is that most media actually does report facts but it's highly selective and it is the context and the caricatures that are fake. ALL media is guilty of this, both sides and almost everywhere. Taibbi actually makes the argument that you do not need the news and you should shut it all off. He says that there are so many bad thing in the world that one person can't possibly do anything about it so they might as well live their lives and take care of their family. I wouldn't argue this at all, rather that if you're going to consume media, you should do it from as many sources as possible with as much scrutiny as possible. Overall, good read and unique insight. There's a bonus Chomsky interview in one of the appendices that's worth checking out.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    Yes!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Fisher

    Required reading for anyone who already knows how manipulative and Manichean today's media landscape has become. Taibbi doesn't just play the blame game but also (refreshingly) highlights his own culpability. Don't blame the media alone as we're all just as complicit in their game. Required reading for anyone who already knows how manipulative and Manichean today's media landscape has become. Taibbi doesn't just play the blame game but also (refreshingly) highlights his own culpability. Don't blame the media alone as we're all just as complicit in their game.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    nothing more depressing than journalists writing about journalism

  15. 4 out of 5

    Clif

    I've always enjoyed Matt Taibbi's writing as he cuts to the heart of any issue, doesn't mince words and always brings a laugh. I think of him as the Jon Stewart of journalism. This book is a collection of essays relating to the profession of journalism and "the news" as we have come to know it. Taibbi prefaces the work by telling us that he believes he has contributed to the confrontation of enemies format that has been so lucrative to the new organizations. He hopes with Hate Inc. to be less str I've always enjoyed Matt Taibbi's writing as he cuts to the heart of any issue, doesn't mince words and always brings a laugh. I think of him as the Jon Stewart of journalism. This book is a collection of essays relating to the profession of journalism and "the news" as we have come to know it. Taibbi prefaces the work by telling us that he believes he has contributed to the confrontation of enemies format that has been so lucrative to the new organizations. He hopes with Hate Inc. to be less strident and vulgar. He succeeds but doesn't lose any of his punch. Each one of his chapters takes up a theme that characterizes the state of the news. The masterpiece of the book is the chapter that compares the Trump style to that of the heel in professional wrestling. For those not familiar with it, professional wrestling is a completely fake world of fighting in which there are good guys (known as faces) and bad guys (known as heels). All of the rivalries are made up complete with ringside/locker room rants that the audience loves though all know it is a big put-on. The only skill involved is being able to make the antics in the ring look like they are extremely violent when in fact nobody gets hurt. Taibbi reports that there was quite a reaction to his decision to put a picture of Rachel Maddow on the cover alongside Sean Hannity. Though she is not mentioned within the chapters of the book, he devotes an appendix to explaining that she is as much a frantic polarizer of opinion as is Hannity. I couldn't agree more, finding them equally repellent and impossible to watch. He laments that while he believes Hannity is just being himself, Maddow once was far from inciting in her on air (radio) performance but has since gone for the dollars. Usually in books like this one, the author offers hope with suggestions on how to make things better. Taibbi doesn't do that, the implication being that as long as news is treated like entertainment (he devotes a chapter to the influence of TV sports presentations on the news) and the money rolls in as it has to Fox and MSNBC, things will not improve. Even in the old world of radio, there is no sign of Rush Limbaugh and his imitators losing listeners. Tune across your AM dial at night to hear the airwaves filled with incitement. How is this doing the country any good? He does at one point suggest turning it all off. As one who worked for ABC/Disney for over two decades including the time that the station where I worked was pioneering "happy talk" news and dominating the ratings, I quit watching long ago and highly recommend it to all. I doubt many will give it a try, contraindicated by screens getting bigger and bigger, now completely dominating the largest living rooms. If you want insight on how we got from good old Walter Cronkite to the anything goes presentations of today, this is the book to read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Taibbi says that he considers this to be a sequel to Herman and Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent in its analysis of the media and their role in what stories get reported and how. He has shifted the focus from newsprint and magazines to 24 hour news entertainment. Entertainment being key here. According to Taibbi, the news we watch today is designed to create an emotional reaction. Because nothing keeps eyes on a screen like controversy, even if there isn't anything controversial going on. Taibbi Taibbi says that he considers this to be a sequel to Herman and Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent in its analysis of the media and their role in what stories get reported and how. He has shifted the focus from newsprint and magazines to 24 hour news entertainment. Entertainment being key here. According to Taibbi, the news we watch today is designed to create an emotional reaction. Because nothing keeps eyes on a screen like controversy, even if there isn't anything controversial going on. Taibbi compares our current news media to sports, where there is always a competing team, it's all or nothing, and if our team doesn't win, it's the end of the world until the next 24hr news cycle. Taibbi puts the blame on the changing news landscape on several things. First, with newspapers becoming a dieing medium due to ad and classifieds revenue disappearing, they are no longer able to provide in depth analysis of current events or spend years investigating or following up on stories, especially stories that are more nuanced than Team A did something bad, so, if you're on Team B you should be happy/outraged. Second, the stories that do run have to be sure not to damage subscriptions so the stories are vetted with an eye to keeping certain demographics happy so they will continue to pay. As a byproduct, there is a very narrow scope of events that the media actually reports on, so we become very well informed on a small sliver of what's actually going on and typically fail to see the big picture. And third, something I had never thought about, was how codified reporters had become. Reporting use to be a dirty, not always respected job, because you were digging up dirt and ideally speaking truth to power. However, as the media became more and more monopolized and profits rose, it started attracting people from elite schools and upper class backgrounds into the business. These are people who are benefitting the most from a system they are supposed to be interrogating. It doesn't take a huge leap in logic to see that they might not have our best interests at heart, intentionally or not. I found Taibbi's comparison between the media's reporting of WMDs during the Bush era and Russiagate now to be very illuminating in describing how a story with no factual legs to stand on can run laps for years and be used to justify things that just a year earlier would have been considered journalistic malpractice. The chapter detailing the history of Russiagate was surprisingly one of the driest. I would recommend, if you want more history on the collusion of Bush and the media's role in pushing the WMD narrative, read John Brown's Black Mass. His review of the political theater used to justify the bombing and invasion is infuriating, not least because the lies told were so obvious that a dedicated, ethical reporters would have called them out immediately. Much like today.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    First of all, this was a library copy of the book, and whoever read it before I did had clearly smoked all while reading it, because it reeked of tobacco. Secondly, it was an interesting book to read as a global pandemic is happening, with plenty of blame to go around but very little decisive action. The Ten Rules of Hate: 1) There are only two ideas (about any given issue, left and right) 2) The two ideas are in permanent conflict 3) Hate people, not institutions 4) Everything is someone else's faul First of all, this was a library copy of the book, and whoever read it before I did had clearly smoked all while reading it, because it reeked of tobacco. Secondly, it was an interesting book to read as a global pandemic is happening, with plenty of blame to go around but very little decisive action. The Ten Rules of Hate: 1) There are only two ideas (about any given issue, left and right) 2) The two ideas are in permanent conflict 3) Hate people, not institutions 4) Everything is someone else's fault 5) Nothing is everyone's fault 6) Root, don't think 7) No switching teams 8) The other side is literally Hitler 9) In the fight against Hitler, everything is permitted 10) Feel superior Ultimately, despite my best intentions, I only made it to about page 100 of the book before giving up and skimming the rest. Taibbi is hatred manifested, and he came off more toxic than informative or persuasive in this book. He wasn't even delightfully curmudgeonly. A far-left-of-center reader might have found some humor in this book, but I found him scathing and pedantic, while also incorrectly recounting stories and dates. And again, the odor.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Dietzel

    An excellent analysis of how the media not only misinforms but actively wants you to fall into one of two teams so you can despise the other side. Taibbi is entertaining and witty throughout and has credibility as one of the very (VERY) few journalists who doesn't fall into the "us vs them" mentality that has poisoned every facet of our society. It's funny to see how some readers take offense at Taibbi's highlighting that both sides are responsible for peddling conspiracy and nonsense, but once An excellent analysis of how the media not only misinforms but actively wants you to fall into one of two teams so you can despise the other side. Taibbi is entertaining and witty throughout and has credibility as one of the very (VERY) few journalists who doesn't fall into the "us vs them" mentality that has poisoned every facet of our society. It's funny to see how some readers take offense at Taibbi's highlighting that both sides are responsible for peddling conspiracy and nonsense, but once you're able to distance yourself from blindly following one team it's easy to see the author is absolutely correct. Read Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media and then this and you'll not only see the world in a different light, you'll largely free yourself from Plato's cave.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    "Our fear of each other is all our leaders have left." We always need an enemy. The enemy can't be reasoned or empathized with. Trying to understand the enemy, or even to question our response to the enemy, can place you under suspicion- or at least result in a radio DJ cutting off your song in the middle and then announcing to listeners that he was too disgusted to let it continue, as I once heard happen to the Dixie Chicks, back in the mid-2000s. Once upon a time, the enemy was the Soviets. When "Our fear of each other is all our leaders have left." We always need an enemy. The enemy can't be reasoned or empathized with. Trying to understand the enemy, or even to question our response to the enemy, can place you under suspicion- or at least result in a radio DJ cutting off your song in the middle and then announcing to listeners that he was too disgusted to let it continue, as I once heard happen to the Dixie Chicks, back in the mid-2000s. Once upon a time, the enemy was the Soviets. When I was growing up, it was Islamic extremism. And for a while now, I guess it's going to be guys who live in the middle of the country, drink Coors Light, and listen to classic-rock radio. But hey, if they take over, at least we'll have good music. I've been thinking about this book more often these days. It's as good an explanation as any as to how and why we- me, you, everyone around you, and maybe even your dog- are slowly being driven insane.

  20. 4 out of 5

    KCarney

    Chomsky meets Hunter? The book I wish Jon Stewart had written? A huge fan of Taibbi...have read most of his works. Matt’s usual in-depth investigative journalism takes down the modern news machine. Critiques both sides while critiquing both sides-ism. In short news is for profit and attn is the new currency. The major outlets no longer serve the citizenry by narrowing allowable narratives.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    This could have been great. This could have been important. It ends up being a nearly worthless collection of blog posts (some of which missed the editing process while being collected for this book). It's written (rightfully) as a strong diatribe against the blurring of american journalism and opinion into a new form of "news" media that encourages hatred of "the other side," driven by corporate greed. Unfortunately, Taibbi renders his argument moot and nearly comical by his endless ranting and This could have been great. This could have been important. It ends up being a nearly worthless collection of blog posts (some of which missed the editing process while being collected for this book). It's written (rightfully) as a strong diatribe against the blurring of american journalism and opinion into a new form of "news" media that encourages hatred of "the other side," driven by corporate greed. Unfortunately, Taibbi renders his argument moot and nearly comical by his endless ranting and name calling of specific people who disagree with him. Hate, Inc indeed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Luke Jacobs

    This book will literally rip reality apart for any upper middle class media loving overtly educated liberal who defaults to watching or reading CNN/MSNBC for “news” For us populists on the left and/or longtime readers about corporate media deception, this book will overshadow everything we’ve researched as the definitive/updated take on the precise workings of the system. The media isn’t a top down conspiracy of elites duping the masses... Taibbi reveals how journalists at these corporate instit This book will literally rip reality apart for any upper middle class media loving overtly educated liberal who defaults to watching or reading CNN/MSNBC for “news” For us populists on the left and/or longtime readers about corporate media deception, this book will overshadow everything we’ve researched as the definitive/updated take on the precise workings of the system. The media isn’t a top down conspiracy of elites duping the masses... Taibbi reveals how journalists at these corporate institutions become conditioned to ignore REAL stories (about poverty, war crimes, white collar crime, etc) and RE-FRAME any slightly populist left wing idea as “weird or unelectable” when hosting interviews, talking to other pundits, or giving their hot takes. If you want a summation of why, it’s because these journalists are, nowadays, part of the very community they’ve traditionally been a pin in the side for: white collar, upper middle class, and employed by giant corporations. They’re not the muckracking cigeratte chomping fact-seeming exposers that our culture may imagine them to be.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jake Duffie

    First 200 pages should be required reading for every American

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Witty, urbane, and an equal blend of harrowing, sober insider-grade analysis of the news business—and a hilariously bitter, Juvenalian skewering of that business. It's frightening to read a book that successfully spells out just how heavily elite interests act in concert and essentially assault us with a highly sophisticated propaganda apparatus. But it's also strangely refreshing. I can't believe I could have so much fun reading a book that tells me consuming too much of the wrong news without b Witty, urbane, and an equal blend of harrowing, sober insider-grade analysis of the news business—and a hilariously bitter, Juvenalian skewering of that business. It's frightening to read a book that successfully spells out just how heavily elite interests act in concert and essentially assault us with a highly sophisticated propaganda apparatus. But it's also strangely refreshing. I can't believe I could have so much fun reading a book that tells me consuming too much of the wrong news without being sufficiently armed is akin to a heavy intake of a carcinogenic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Doni

    I enjoyed it, but it came across as a series of rants rather than a well-structured book. Maybe he'll polish it up before actual publication. I was also frustrated that I had no control over when I finished it. I enjoyed it, but it came across as a series of rants rather than a well-structured book. Maybe he'll polish it up before actual publication. I was also frustrated that I had no control over when I finished it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    Breaking the cardinal rule about judging a book by its cover in this review. Well, judging the cover anyway. Rachel Maddow does not spew fake news or hate like those on Fox “News” channel. Authors are just as guilty of dividing us. Take some responsibility. Will not be reading this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    His best.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Stachowitz

    In what was probably the most important book I've read all year, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi sounds the alarm on the ills of modern media. Hate Inc., like many great books, expresses the ideas one might already have but can't fully develop, identifying those ideas with a lucid precision and expanding on them in unforeseen directions that suddenly make perfect sense. Taibbi makes a few things clear off the bat: 1. Today's media landscape is profit-centered. If you don't keep this at the f In what was probably the most important book I've read all year, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi sounds the alarm on the ills of modern media. Hate Inc., like many great books, expresses the ideas one might already have but can't fully develop, identifying those ideas with a lucid precision and expanding on them in unforeseen directions that suddenly make perfect sense. Taibbi makes a few things clear off the bat: 1. Today's media landscape is profit-centered. If you don't keep this at the forefront of your mind at all times, you'll miss a lot of its nuances and fail to understand the problematic nature of its practices. 2. The scope of topics and range of opinions deemed acceptable in mainstream media sources are very limited, and while the presentation and framing encourage a perceptibly extreme bipolarity, this combativeness is emotional and focused on only a pre-approved subset of topics. 3. You probably don't hate or fear others as much as you think; a lot of this nastiness is the result of the siloing of media consumers into different sources and the subsequent nurturing, which engenders an almost cult-like intellectual servitude. With these broad ideas in mind, Taibbi enumerates his "Ten Rules of Hate" that informally govern the aforementioned profit-centered media landscape. Rules is perhaps a misnomer—I perceived these as a combination of business approaches, journalistic tendencies, and corollary characteristics, which isn't to say that most of these things are unintentional. Nevertheless, I think these rules will quickly start to shift many readers' whole outlook on not just journalism and mainstream media, but the political culture and their fellow citizens more broadly. At this early point in the book it looks as if Taibbi is undertaking a digital era reboot of Herman and Chomsky's seminal work on mass media and propaganda, Manufacturing Consent. Without a truly academic background and with vast experience as a journalist that could provide unique insights into the industry, I was hoping Taibbi would not shoot for immortality and just stick to what makes him outstanding in his own right. And he does. Although Hate Inc. frequently mentions Manufacturing Consent's propaganda model—the narrowing of acceptable topics, the worthy/unworthy victim dichotomy, flak (criticism of reports deemed unacceptable), anti-communism as an almost religious social control mechanism—it neither leans on it as a crutch nor dismisses its most important and enduring factors in favor of some gimmicky new model. A few compelling yet immensely cynical chapters are devoted to campaign reporting, polling, and primary coverage. These chapters let Taibbi's sharp humor shine through the despair as he recounts personal experiences and various modern examples of mass media's absurdity—think: bullshit electability standards such as the "beer test"—and the perils which result. The perspectives offered here are enlightening because they're not bogged down by academic jargon and models; they're stories about stories that many readers will already remember vividly. Taibbi follows these with a chapter explaining his WWE metaphor for news media, which, along with a later chapter explaining his sports metaphor, was probably the weakest part of the book. These ideas are intuitive enough to warrant a lot less text, but I can see the benefit for readers unfamiliar with the likes of Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, et al. Taibbi is at his finest in chapters such as "Scare Tactics: All the Folk Devils Are Here" in which he weds academic research with his insights into news media tactics. This chapter, along with "How Reading the News is Like Smoking" and "The Media's Great Factual Loophole," illuminates the media strategies that persuade audiences that they have something to fear, that the source of this fear is always right around the corner, and that the only method of control they have is to continuously tune in for updates (which, unbeknownst to them, often omit crucial details to keep the cycle alive). I think we can all relate to Taibbi's longing for the good old days of Walter Cronkite's equable broadcasts, flawed as the news media was even back then. The book concludes with two supremely important case studies: the media's role in selling WMD fears and encouraging the Iraq War (with its enormous human and journalistic toll) as well as the very recent Russiagate reporting (with less material impact but catastrophic consequences for journalistic standards and public faith in institutions). Taibbi broadens the usual takes—no, this is not just repeated jabs at Judith Miller, Rachel Maddow, and Sean Hannity—and explains the fundamental problems with how reporting is done today. These problems are so extensive that no review, no book, no single person can begin to tackle them, offer solutions to them, and begin to reconcile an ailing, paranoid, hostile, and despairing populace. I really can't fault Taibbi for skipping a chapter dedicated to some naive solution. For now, this book is enough and it might take some time and some sinking-in before we can begin to crawl out of whatever bleak tragedy of a hole we've fallen into. P.S. Read the appendices too. There is a good chapter about Rachel Maddow and an easygoing interview with Chomsky. Read the whole book. Read this damned book and talk about it!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eli

    (I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review) Though it was originally published as a series of email dispatches, Hate Inc makes for a surprisingly cohesive critique of the news media. You can tell it was serialized because of the of-the-moment intensity and occasional messiness of its writing, but I think this makes the book a more interesting document than it might've been. You can feel Taibbi's anger when he writes about the journalists who made the c (I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review) Though it was originally published as a series of email dispatches, Hate Inc makes for a surprisingly cohesive critique of the news media. You can tell it was serialized because of the of-the-moment intensity and occasional messiness of its writing, but I think this makes the book a more interesting document than it might've been. You can feel Taibbi's anger when he writes about the journalists who made the case for war with Iraq, and how those same people (yes, literally the same humans in the same jobs, or better ones) flog the equally unsubstantiated Russiagate story. Together, the chapters debunk the pieties and practices of contemporary journalism, from treating campaigns as sporting events to the unspoken ideological assumptions of cable news. It's like a messier, more polemical baby cousin of Manufacturing Consent (no surprise that the book was originally conceived as an update to Herman and Chomsky's classic but morphed into a cathartic airing-of-grievances). Taibbi is a credible tour-guide of the wreckage of the modern media landscape because he is a practicing journalist, and a good one. And, as becomes clear reading Hate Inc, being a good journalist--free thinking, critical of power, concerned with the truth rather than being right--means being marginalized within the business or shut out entirely. Taibbi has managed to carve out a niche for himself in corporate media as a skeptical, oppositional reporter with a progressive bent, but his kind are few. He was one of maybe a handful of reporters who described the financial crisis as exactly what it was: the result of a crime, fraud, a blatant and intentional theft. And the crime went unpunished, his voice unheeded. It makes sense that such a person, having spent their whole career as a reporter fighting against the "filters" (a la Manufacturing Consent) of the corporate news media, would have a lot of pent up frustration toward their colleagues. Speaking of the financial crisis, there is curiously little discussion of that episode, as opposed to say, the WMD debacle or Russiagate. This doesn't weaken Taibbi's argument, but is pretty odd considering his association with that event. It would have made a great case study in journalistic malpractice. And there was another strange omission: that other work of 1980s media criticism, Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death." Though that work is less focused on structural issues in news media than Hate Inc, it would have been right at home in Taibbi's discussion of news as a consumer product. I do wonder who this book's target audience is. Actually I know exactly who it is. It's me, someone already skeptical of mainstream news and politics and way waaayyyy too tuned in to meta-discourse about news, and definitely ONLINE enough to have subscribed to Matt Taibbi's email newsletter. The problem is that aside from that micro-demographic (and, ironically, the "siloing" of media consumption is something addressed in the book) I don't know who will read Hate Inc. And, dammit, I don't care. This is real shit, and will go unread not despite its insight but because of it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Hirsch

    Trust in the media has been nosediving for a long time now. Author Matt Taibbi argues in "Hate Inc." that the media, having squandered trust, is now primed to shed all of their remaining dignity one reporter and one bad story at a time. In the same period media also has gone from being perceived as a single entity to a diffuse and bespoke experience, "rage silos" (as I think Taibbi calls them) like Fox News or MSNBC. How did we get here and how much lower can we go now that at least two manufactu Trust in the media has been nosediving for a long time now. Author Matt Taibbi argues in "Hate Inc." that the media, having squandered trust, is now primed to shed all of their remaining dignity one reporter and one bad story at a time. In the same period media also has gone from being perceived as a single entity to a diffuse and bespoke experience, "rage silos" (as I think Taibbi calls them) like Fox News or MSNBC. How did we get here and how much lower can we go now that at least two manufactured crises have been exposed as shams (WMD and Russiagate)? Taibbi explains, in compulsively readable prose, how market pressures and the collapse of print journalism forced media giants to resort to pro-wrestling level kayfabe and content-free theater to deliver viewers to advertisers while conveniently never providing enough news or context to ever undermine the forces that media actually serve (hint: it ain't you and me). I am not a partisan political junkie and only occasionally turn on the TV to watch a boxing match (my one abiding popular culture vice). Like about half of Americans, I am a bit too beaten down by life/cynical to go through most of the requisite motions necessary to even make believe I live in a participatory democracy. But Matt Taibbi's channeling of his twin influences, Hunter S. Thompson and Noam Chomsky, (not the oddest dyad, maybe) combined with his own stylistic flair and intelligence, make me think all hope might not be lost. His words and his humanity force me to reengage with a culture and a country that may be beyond saving, perhaps not even worth salvaging at this point. Taibbi makes me want to try, and care again. That's no mean feat. And "Hate Inc." is an incredible book, one of the few to earn the mantle of journalism in a time where to be called a literal prostitute might be a preferable slander. Most topical political books come on a wind of manufactured and orchestrated praise and disappear just as quickly. This book is a service to any American who picks it up, and will serve as an essential historical record of a time when the remnants of the fourth estate finally collapsed under the weight of their own malfeasance. Yes, we need more Taibbi's but the fact that even one exists in this time where everyone with a functioning spinal column or brain is winnowed or cancelled will have to be miracle sufficient for the time being. Highest recommendation.

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