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Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy

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A wide-ranging history of seventy years of change in political media, and how it transformed -- and fractured -- American politics With fake news on Facebook, trolls on Twitter, and viral outrage everywhere, it's easy to believe that the internet changed politics entirely. In Political Junkies, historian Claire Bond Potter shows otherwise, revealing the roots of today's dys A wide-ranging history of seventy years of change in political media, and how it transformed -- and fractured -- American politics With fake news on Facebook, trolls on Twitter, and viral outrage everywhere, it's easy to believe that the internet changed politics entirely. In Political Junkies, historian Claire Bond Potter shows otherwise, revealing the roots of today's dysfunction by situating online politics in a longer history of alternative political media. From independent newsletters in the 1950s to talk radio in the 1970s to cable television in the 1980s, pioneers on the left and right developed alternative media outlets that made politics more popular, and ultimately, more partisan. When campaign operatives took up e-mail, blogging, and social media, they only supercharged these trends. At a time when political engagement has never been greater and trust has never been lower, Political Junkies is essential reading for understanding how we got here.


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A wide-ranging history of seventy years of change in political media, and how it transformed -- and fractured -- American politics With fake news on Facebook, trolls on Twitter, and viral outrage everywhere, it's easy to believe that the internet changed politics entirely. In Political Junkies, historian Claire Bond Potter shows otherwise, revealing the roots of today's dys A wide-ranging history of seventy years of change in political media, and how it transformed -- and fractured -- American politics With fake news on Facebook, trolls on Twitter, and viral outrage everywhere, it's easy to believe that the internet changed politics entirely. In Political Junkies, historian Claire Bond Potter shows otherwise, revealing the roots of today's dysfunction by situating online politics in a longer history of alternative political media. From independent newsletters in the 1950s to talk radio in the 1970s to cable television in the 1980s, pioneers on the left and right developed alternative media outlets that made politics more popular, and ultimately, more partisan. When campaign operatives took up e-mail, blogging, and social media, they only supercharged these trends. At a time when political engagement has never been greater and trust has never been lower, Political Junkies is essential reading for understanding how we got here.

45 review for Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Solid Discussion Of Sometimes Obscure History. Full disclosure up front: As a former political blogger who was an organizer of one of the Tea Party events (before the professionals got involved) and as both a Party Official (for the Libertarian Party, at both local and State levels) and Candidate (for City Council in a town encompassing an area just four square miles), I actively participated in some of the history Potter discusses here. Though quite a bit of it was before I was born - she begin Solid Discussion Of Sometimes Obscure History. Full disclosure up front: As a former political blogger who was an organizer of one of the Tea Party events (before the professionals got involved) and as both a Party Official (for the Libertarian Party, at both local and State levels) and Candidate (for City Council in a town encompassing an area just four square miles), I actively participated in some of the history Potter discusses here. Though quite a bit of it was before I was born - she begins her discussion in the 1950s, before even my parents were born, and I would come along during Ronald Reagan's first term as US President but not become truly politically active until November 5, 2008. But even as someone with the aforementioned background, even as someone who once had a very high level of behind the scenes access within at least State level politics of at least one State, this truly seems like a comprehensive and accurate history of how we got to where we now find ourselves as Americans relating to politics through media. Potter has done a remarkable job of showing how various movements and moments played on and into each other, building on and around prior and contemporary techniques to go from a dude in his garage just trying to present news the Big 3 weren't to the modern era of ubiquitous cameras and Deep Fake technology. Though actual Deep Fake tech is one area Potter doesn't *truly* get into, likely as it hasn't been shown to be actually active in political circles in the US. Yet. Truly an excellent work, and anyone who is interested in why we are as fractured as we are as a populace would do well to read this to at least know how we got here from an alternative media side. If you're discussing regulation of social media or complaining about the vitriol far too many online discussions turn to, read here to find out how we got to this point - and a couple of passing ideas on how we can do a little better. Very much recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    This was a very informative book but different from what I expected. I thought the book would be more about the grassroots/amateurs who are hooked on talk radio, Twitter, and other forms of social media. Instead, the book is more about the reporters/political consultants who developed the alternative media. This book is very fair to the alternate media. The book covers its origins in both the in both left and right wing politics. While the mainstream press can be quite critical of the alternate This was a very informative book but different from what I expected. I thought the book would be more about the grassroots/amateurs who are hooked on talk radio, Twitter, and other forms of social media. Instead, the book is more about the reporters/political consultants who developed the alternative media. This book is very fair to the alternate media. The book covers its origins in both the in both left and right wing politics. While the mainstream press can be quite critical of the alternate media, this book does mention that the alternate media has at times broken stories that the mainstream media has refused to print. The book also describes how political consultants and campaign managers have used social media has a major part of election campaigns.. My one disappointment is the author does not go into how social media makes it much easier to spread false information. I know I posted links in Facebook to information that is false. Furthermore, it appears that Russia very sinister manner was able to manipulate Facebook and Twitter. I think those who use social media need to know learn recognize social media scams. In short, Political Junkies is an excellent book but not what I expected. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    An excellent primer to the world of alternative media as it regards politics and political movements in the United States. There is very little groundbreaking news here, but it's not intended to be that. The New York Times recently reported on the development of a "pay for play" network of online and print news organizations that have sprung up around the U.S. both as a means to fill a void when local news gathering has evaporated—when owners close local publications due to unsustainable advertis An excellent primer to the world of alternative media as it regards politics and political movements in the United States. There is very little groundbreaking news here, but it's not intended to be that. The New York Times recently reported on the development of a "pay for play" network of online and print news organizations that have sprung up around the U.S. both as a means to fill a void when local news gathering has evaporated—when owners close local publications due to unsustainable advertising—and to spread politically polarizing views. This book lays the groundwork for comprehending why that new development isn't earth-shattering, that there is a long history on which it's building. From print newsletters that were mailed to self-produced databases, to the origins of talk radio's complete "ownership" by conservative voices, to the Drudge Report and social media now, ‘Political Junkies’ underscores the struggle of partisans and the innovations they undertook in order to get their messages heard.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tracie Crane

    Changes in political thinking have slowly changed, as have several laws that have gradually loosened up and allowed media to lean more to one side instead of being unbiased. The days of media just providing the facts are long gone. The author takes us through the events that have brought us to today's politics. This book is a real eye opener. Even if you realize the changes on your own, this book will reveal the increasing corruption in ways you may have not realized yet. I recommend this book to Changes in political thinking have slowly changed, as have several laws that have gradually loosened up and allowed media to lean more to one side instead of being unbiased. The days of media just providing the facts are long gone. The author takes us through the events that have brought us to today's politics. This book is a real eye opener. Even if you realize the changes on your own, this book will reveal the increasing corruption in ways you may have not realized yet. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the way government is changing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    A_Place_In The_Orchard

    Definitely a fascinating book, but a kinda worrisome one as well. We all know "this kind of thing" goes on in the secretive corners of the internet and media, but to have it harpooned and dragged squirming up into daylight is a very different proposition. Essential reading for anybody who has wondered how modern media/politics/society arrived where they are today, and whether you agree with Potter's conclusions or not, you're going to learn a lot that maybe you wish you didn't know about. Everyo Definitely a fascinating book, but a kinda worrisome one as well. We all know "this kind of thing" goes on in the secretive corners of the internet and media, but to have it harpooned and dragged squirming up into daylight is a very different proposition. Essential reading for anybody who has wondered how modern media/politics/society arrived where they are today, and whether you agree with Potter's conclusions or not, you're going to learn a lot that maybe you wish you didn't know about. Everyone should read this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ash Luna

    Political Junkies is an eye opener toward how the media portrays the political realm. Media has went thru a ton of changes over the centuries, and has become some what of a catalyst for misinformation and this book sways you into a completely different thinking of the media and the way they treat the political world.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    As I read and see videos of other political and historical issues, I have now a new perspective with which to draw from. Not only does Potter reexamine the historical development of the alternative media but she shines a light on how and who the players are, where they stepped on stage, what their motives were, and how we are now dealing with this raging mess of a country that is before us. I pictured myself early in this reading with infants to care for and little time for being a Political Jun As I read and see videos of other political and historical issues, I have now a new perspective with which to draw from. Not only does Potter reexamine the historical development of the alternative media but she shines a light on how and who the players are, where they stepped on stage, what their motives were, and how we are now dealing with this raging mess of a country that is before us. I pictured myself early in this reading with infants to care for and little time for being a Political Junkie. However, I remember the time periods well and my frustrations with each one. Potter fills in the blank spaces with humor, clarity, and a balanced voice. Potter ends with an eye-opening revision about a headline you will recognize and be amazed at its misleading nature. I will not spoil it for you. I was hopping mad when I read that I had been duped into thinking the wrong thing. Time to watch and be mindful of what we read...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul Vidich

    Claire Potter’s book is an important work on how the shrill and unbalanced political discourse in America has come to be. Potter looks backward at its sources and helps us imagine what might lie ahead for our fragile democratic institutions. Potter rightly contends that Donald Trump’s 2016 election can be attributed to his comfort with the “hyper-partisan populist atmosphere that digital alternative media promoted.” Potter suggests that alternative media, by refocusing on truth-seeking and infor Claire Potter’s book is an important work on how the shrill and unbalanced political discourse in America has come to be. Potter looks backward at its sources and helps us imagine what might lie ahead for our fragile democratic institutions. Potter rightly contends that Donald Trump’s 2016 election can be attributed to his comfort with the “hyper-partisan populist atmosphere that digital alternative media promoted.” Potter suggests that alternative media, by refocusing on truth-seeking and informed debate, can help buttress American democracy from some of the demagoguery that threatens it. Well-meaning citizens on both sides of the political spectrum will likely find solace in this brisk, well-written account.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jan Michaels

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    Kelly McHugh-Stewart

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    Emilie Urbain

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    Michael

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    Jeremy Webster

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    John Edelson

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    Geoffrey Rose

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Adelman

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    Jesse

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    Jeff

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    Katie

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    Jessica

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    Michael Kovan

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    Charlotte Jones

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    Reverenddave

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    Michelle Comardo

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    Jessica Hatch

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    Kathleen Bianchi

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    Kimberly

  45. 5 out of 5

    Mahrukh Ahmed

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