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The Smear: How the Secret Art of Character Assassination Controls What You Think, What You Read, and How You Vote

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Ever wonder how politics turned into a take-no-prisoners blood sport? The New York Times bestselling author of Stonewalled pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions.Behind most major political stories in the modern era, there is an agenda; an effort by opposition researchers, Ever wonder how politics turned into a take-no-prisoners blood sport? The New York Times bestselling author of Stonewalled pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions.Behind most major political stories in the modern era, there is an agenda; an effort by opposition researchers, spin doctors, and outside interests to destroy an idea or a person. The tactic they use is the Smear. Every day, Americans are influenced by the Smear without knowing it. Paid forces cleverly shape virtually every image you cross. Maybe you read that Donald Trump is a racist misogynist, or saw someone on the news mocking the Bernie Sanders campaign. The trick of the Smear is that it is often based on some shred of truth, but these media-driven "hit pieces" are designed to obscure the truth. Success hinges on the Smear artist’s ability to remain invisible; to make it seem as if their work is neither calculated nor scripted. It must appear to be precisely what it is not.Veteran journalist Sharyl Attkisson has witnessed this practice firsthand. After years of being pitched hit jobs and puff pieces, she’s an expert at detecting Smear campaigns. Now, the hard-hitting investigative reporter shares her inside knowledge, revealing how the Smear takes shape and who its perpetrators are—including Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal and, most influential of all, "right-wing assassin turned left-wing assassin" (National Review) political operative David Brock and his Media Matters for America empire.Attkisson exposes the diabolical tactics of Smear artists, and their outrageous access to the biggest names in political media—operatives who are corrupting the political process, and discouraging widespread citizen involvement in our democracy.


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Ever wonder how politics turned into a take-no-prisoners blood sport? The New York Times bestselling author of Stonewalled pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions.Behind most major political stories in the modern era, there is an agenda; an effort by opposition researchers, Ever wonder how politics turned into a take-no-prisoners blood sport? The New York Times bestselling author of Stonewalled pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions.Behind most major political stories in the modern era, there is an agenda; an effort by opposition researchers, spin doctors, and outside interests to destroy an idea or a person. The tactic they use is the Smear. Every day, Americans are influenced by the Smear without knowing it. Paid forces cleverly shape virtually every image you cross. Maybe you read that Donald Trump is a racist misogynist, or saw someone on the news mocking the Bernie Sanders campaign. The trick of the Smear is that it is often based on some shred of truth, but these media-driven "hit pieces" are designed to obscure the truth. Success hinges on the Smear artist’s ability to remain invisible; to make it seem as if their work is neither calculated nor scripted. It must appear to be precisely what it is not.Veteran journalist Sharyl Attkisson has witnessed this practice firsthand. After years of being pitched hit jobs and puff pieces, she’s an expert at detecting Smear campaigns. Now, the hard-hitting investigative reporter shares her inside knowledge, revealing how the Smear takes shape and who its perpetrators are—including Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal and, most influential of all, "right-wing assassin turned left-wing assassin" (National Review) political operative David Brock and his Media Matters for America empire.Attkisson exposes the diabolical tactics of Smear artists, and their outrageous access to the biggest names in political media—operatives who are corrupting the political process, and discouraging widespread citizen involvement in our democracy.

30 review for The Smear: How the Secret Art of Character Assassination Controls What You Think, What You Read, and How You Vote

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    i initially was going to give this more stars as the introduction and first chapter are well balanced and a keen deconstruction of modern media. however the author quickly leans to the right which is fair yet i found her focus on media matters smears wearying. i think this is an important book to read but bear in mind the right are not squeaky clean whan it comes to smears

  2. 5 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This nonfiction book is for readers interested in politics and media. Emmy award-winning Sharyl Attkisson gives solid, horrifying details of how the modern smear machine works against individuals, journalists, and politicians who step away from the policies espoused by, for example, the backers of David Brock at Media Matters and his other numerous organizations. (Look for the octopus-like diagram.) Although Brock is one focus, Attkisson provides chilling background on how creators of insidious, This nonfiction book is for readers interested in politics and media. Emmy award-winning Sharyl Attkisson gives solid, horrifying details of how the modern smear machine works against individuals, journalists, and politicians who step away from the policies espoused by, for example, the backers of David Brock at Media Matters and his other numerous organizations. (Look for the octopus-like diagram.) Although Brock is one focus, Attkisson provides chilling background on how creators of insidious, untrue stories are able to make them take root, appear omnipresent, and continue unrelentingly until their target is silenced. She also exposes how journalists have crossed the line of honest reporting for the get, the scoop, and the clicks. While The Smear is not pleasant, it is well worth reading to understand the media agendas and approaches of many of today's policy groups, and how the media and the policy groups feed off of one another.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Attkisson concludes with this sobering warning: “One thing you can count on is that most every image that crosses your path has been put there for a reason. Nothing happens by accident. What you need to ask yourself isn’t so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it—and why?”

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Abigt

    The show where that promoted the book was nothing like it. The story was mainly about how companies are manipulating people. I've made it through 9 of the 12 chapters and I'm calling it quits. After the news story I kept waiting to hear how the other side does it too. But it never came. Just Hilary, Hilary Hilary then poor Trump. To sum up the book Hilary Clinton is the head of a liberal conspiracy hell bent on enriching herself at our expense while crushing the GOP. The GOP has only ever smeare The show where that promoted the book was nothing like it. The story was mainly about how companies are manipulating people. I've made it through 9 of the 12 chapters and I'm calling it quits. After the news story I kept waiting to hear how the other side does it too. But it never came. Just Hilary, Hilary Hilary then poor Trump. To sum up the book Hilary Clinton is the head of a liberal conspiracy hell bent on enriching herself at our expense while crushing the GOP. The GOP has only ever smeared people to try and defeat Trump. Trump is a really nice guy that won though against the liberals and the GOP without ever telling a lie. Basically if you find Fox News a bit too liberal then you might like this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    As an English professor who teaches first-year writing and graduate seminars on argument, I welcomed the opportunity to read something current on propaganda and fake news. I did find much of value that rings true regarding smear campaigns, the corruption of the media by corporate interests, and the use of astroturf groups. Ultimately, though, Attkisson has written an ironically dishonest book. I knew nothing of her when I picked the book off the shelves at Barnes & Noble. I perhaps should have d As an English professor who teaches first-year writing and graduate seminars on argument, I welcomed the opportunity to read something current on propaganda and fake news. I did find much of value that rings true regarding smear campaigns, the corruption of the media by corporate interests, and the use of astroturf groups. Ultimately, though, Attkisson has written an ironically dishonest book. I knew nothing of her when I picked the book off the shelves at Barnes & Noble. I perhaps should have done a search on Safari right then and there, but I thought that even if she ended up being a right-wing hack, I'd learn something about how the other side thinks about the propaganda efforts of liberals and the Democratic party. I suppose I did, but Attkisson's attitude was very off-putting. If she had told me out of the gate that she was a conservative or a moderate who was concerned about the Democratic spin machine, particularly David Brock, I could have respected her. Instead, however, she claims to be an objective reporter, searching for the truth, who has been victimized by liberal smear campaigns against reporters, herself in particular. Thus, she pretends to be even-handed and gives lip service to some of the obvious smear campaigns conducted by the Right to claim balance. It doesn't work. The book, for the most part, blames the Clintons for creating a well-funded propaganda machine, complete with members willing to resort to violence to silence dissenters. Attkisson focuses on David Brock's post-Right Wing days, ignoring the well-funded smear campaigns he was a part of--not creator of--prior to his liberal conversion that Brock shines a bright light on in The Republican Noise Machine. She rarely challenges the material produced from Brock's Media Matters and other outlets for its veracity. It's one thing to smear someone with the truth that has been withheld or has just been discovered. It's another to take kernels of truth, especially on matters irrelevant to the issue at stake, and distort them or make mountains out of molehills. With Attkisson, it appears the two methods are the same. In reading Attkisson, you would think that Glenn Beck was an innocent conservative commentator who liberals succeeded in silencing because of his Republican-leaning views, not a racist, misogynistic propagandist who used his position at Fox News to disseminate falsehoods in the service of a far right agenda. In other words, for Attkisson, the boycott of the advertisers of Beck's show was not warranted by Beck's behavior. It was a trick foisted on the citizenship by Brock to make it appear there was a surge of complaints to try to get Fox News to back off of its watchdog role. She briefly reviews the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry, rightly showing how it was deceptive and hardly a grass roots movement, but she concludes that the truth over the allegations are still a subject of debate. Really? That must have come as news to the numerous independent investigators who found nothing but fraudulent claims and hearsay. Her bias is most clear in what she leaves out. She hardly mentions a word about the 8 years of George W. Bush, despite the massive use of propaganda from his operatives and the media. Was there really no deception about the use of weapons of mass destruction in order to get Congress to greenlight the Iraq War? Someone concerned about shady political operatives would have picked this up. Was science not suppressed about global warming? I also seem to remember the deficit being blamed on the liberals when clearly Bush started it back up (after Bill Clinton had brought it to a halt) due to tax breaks to the rich and the war. The media, except for some progressive venues such as Z Magazine, went along for the ride. It's funny how none of that was of interest to Attkisson. And what about the Persian Gulf War? The media was blacked out from covering the day-to-day operations. Misinformation about Kuwait and Iraq was disseminated by a PR firm hired by the Emir of Kuwait with Bush Sr.'s knowledge. Complete lies were told about the success of the Patriot Missiles. Instead of finding the origins over the control of what we think and see with the Clintons, wouldn't this have been a better place to start? I will give her credit for exposing some of the weapons used against Donald Trump in the campaign and afterwards. She obviously greatly admires his ability to rise above smear, referring to him as "the wild card," and she succeeds in showing how the mainstream media lost any pretense of objectivity in reporting about him. She uncovers how the media en masse took its cue from the DNC and liberal spinmeisters, using the exact same terminology in some cases to put a slant on his rallies or his campaigns. It's also clear that Hillary Clinton benefited from some favoritism, probably because the media was so afraid of a Trump presidency (something Attkisson refers to, but never questions; could there have been (gasp) a reason the informed citizenry were scared out of its wits?). As much as I dislike Trump, I have not been blind to how the media has jumped on his every misstep, slut-shamed his daughter and wife, and exaggerated his beliefs and agenda. It is disgraceful reporting. Attkisson's perspective and evidence was welcomed by me on this matter, then, although she downplays the truly terrifying aspects of Trump. So despite some insights, Attkisson pretense of neutrality undermines this book. While blaming liberals and the Democratic party for constructing false narratives, she constructs one of her own. It's a shame, really. As a trained rhetorician, I can see a mind at work as she shows how to detect a smear campaign. I was a victim of a smear campaign that went public. Therefore, I have a very sympathetic ear when I hear of others, Republicans as well as Democrats, having to fight off rumors as if they were facts, to see witnesses coerced into false testimony, to read blatant lies and inconsistencies that could have been exposed as such with just a little effort on a reporter's part. Further, I do not like Hillary Clinton and feel she was very dirty and that she played dirty. I wish she would simply go away. But Attkisson has, herself, concocted a smear campaign in the guise of trying to warn readers of biased reporting. Her book, then, is as dishonest as it is one-sided.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Lawson

    **REVIEW UPDATE** I rarely change the rating I give for a book. After reconsidering my review, I realized I had no reason to not give this book the top rating. So--now 5 stars. In THE SMEAR, Sharyl Attkisson argues that regular folks are easy targets for false information or smear campaigns: “The public has no idea of the extent to which news is influenced by smear merchants.” This situation didn’t just happen—it’s been a long time coming: “The past two decades have served as an ideal incubator fo **REVIEW UPDATE** I rarely change the rating I give for a book. After reconsidering my review, I realized I had no reason to not give this book the top rating. So--now 5 stars. In THE SMEAR, Sharyl Attkisson argues that regular folks are easy targets for false information or smear campaigns: “The public has no idea of the extent to which news is influenced by smear merchants.” This situation didn’t just happen—it’s been a long time coming: “The past two decades have served as an ideal incubator for an industry of smears and fake news.” The author gives the reader lots of reasons to worry. Attkisson documents, in great detail, many of the behind-the-scenes organizations with political agendas. The consumer of news is “pummeled by countless narratives—some based on grains of truth; others wholly invented for the audience.” Attkisson warns news consumers to be cautious even if all the media outlets are parroting the same line. “Today, if enough pundits, operatives, and media parrot the same narrative, it becomes incorporated into the fabric of the news as an accepted fact.” And yet, smear campaigns are not new—they are as old as the Republic: “Our founding fathers knew very well the power of a sharp character assassination . . . Hamilton and Jefferson were planting stuff on each other’s sex lives.” The author documents many smear campaigns—originating from both the Left and the Right. She cites the Clarence Thomas hearings as an example of smears from both sides, and also, how one might fight a smear: “The Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination showed both sides that the best way to fight a smear might not be to take a defensive posture—but to mount an offensive countersmear.” Attkisson is careful to define what she means by “smear.” It’s not the dissemination of falsehoods, so much as exaggeration: “Expert smear artists take a sprinkle of truth—in this case Imus’s objectionable comments—and pervert it into a weapon of mass destruction to advance a larger goal, often political or financial.” Smear campaigns take something that is true and "amplify a misdeed out of proportion.” For me, one of the most fascinating sections was about a variation of smear called “Astroturf.” In this variation, the pros pretend they are ordinary folks: “Paid interests disguised as ordinary people troll assigned topics, news sites, reporters, blogs, and social media for the purpose of posting comments that spin and confuse.” The idea is to “give the impression there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not.” Attkisson concludes with this sobering warning: “One thing you can count on is that most every image that crosses your path has been put there for a reason. Nothing happens by accident. What you need to ask yourself isn’t so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it—and why?” So all in all, I found THE SMEAR to be a solid, and a scary work. The author writes clearly and concisely. Although not a short book, it is reasonably easy to follow. The book explains many detailed cases on both sides of the political spectrum. Of course, I already knew about many of the tragic stories, but I had no idea of the magnitude of the smear machines. See also: https://www.bassocantor.com/blog/smear

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dan Lutts

    You may now realize it, but we—you and I—are being manipulated by both the Democratic and Republican Parties as well as by the news media. Democrats and Republicans alike actively engage in smear campaigns, which are attempts to manipulate public opinion—our opinions—in an attempt to destroy a person, idea, or political party. A smear usually contains a small kernel of truth, but the rest is lies. Smear campaigns are run by non-profit organizations aligned with political parties. However, the pe You may now realize it, but we—you and I—are being manipulated by both the Democratic and Republican Parties as well as by the news media. Democrats and Republicans alike actively engage in smear campaigns, which are attempts to manipulate public opinion—our opinions—in an attempt to destroy a person, idea, or political party. A smear usually contains a small kernel of truth, but the rest is lies. Smear campaigns are run by non-profit organizations aligned with political parties. However, the people who conduct the campaigns have no political allegiances. They’ll switch sides and work for whoever gives them the most money. These campaigns can be traced back to the people and organizations who hired and conducted them. Astroturfing is “a close cousin” to smearing. Astroturf campaigns attempt to destroy a person, policy, or cause by giving the false impression meant to convince people—you and me—that almost everyone supports a specific idea or policy when very few people actually do. The men, women, and organizations that conduct astroturfing campaigns hide their tracks, making it impossible for anyone to identify who they are. Sharyl Attkisson’s The Smear was a huge shock for me. She opens by providing a general history of smears. The first ones originated in colonial times, but smear campaigns came into their own during World War II, when both Allies and Axis powers used them against each other. The “organized political smear,” Attkisson maintains, began during Robert Bork’s Senate confirmation hearings in 1987 when the Democrats “Borked” Bork, a conservative judge President Ronald Reagan nominated for the Supreme Court.* Liberal Democrats organized a public character assassination that resulted in Bork’s not being appointed. The Republicans struck back in 1991 during the confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court when they successfully “Borked” Anita Hill during her testimony against him. Hill lost credibility and Tomas became a Supreme Court justice. Attkisson, an investigative reporter who endured multiple smear campaigns aimed at her for her investigations, goes on to describe how the smear industry grew into a multi-million-dollar industry employed by both Democrats and Republicans. She provides plenty of case studies involving smear campaigns by specific smear organizations for and against major politicians on both sides of the aisle. She even mentions smear campaigns the industry launched against her because of investigations she was conducting. She also explains how, just as Democrats and Republicans allow lobbyists to write parts or entire pieces of legislation, news organizations allow smear artists to write articles and opinion pieces using the names of their opinion writers that smear the enemies of the people who are paying them. What you read in newspapers might actually be part of a smear campaign to manipulate you into taking a specific side or believe a certain thing. The Smear is certainly a wake-up call to not believe everything you hear or read. Research multiple points of view to get as much information as you can, and then make up your mind. By the way, smear campaigns are no longer confined to America. Attkisson’s epilogue, describes how smears have gone global. *The hearing resulted in adding a new term, “Borked,” which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means: “To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.” (p. 15)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Behind most major political stories there is an agenda – to destroy an idea or the people advancing it. Sharyl Attkisson does a great job explaining how sophisticated operatives on both sides of the aisle work behind the scenes to establish narratives, manipulate journalists, and shape the images you see every day. Nothing is by accident, and you’ll never again watch the evening news in the same old, comfortable way. No matter what you already suspected, this one’s an eye-opener.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Annie Oosterwyk

    Yep, politics are ugly and you should definitely look into the author's bias. The entire book was focused on the evil liberal media and Trump's falsehoods got one paragraph (mostly attributed to one accident by Kelley Ann Conway). I really miss Bernie Sanders. Yep, politics are ugly and you should definitely look into the author's bias. The entire book was focused on the evil liberal media and Trump's falsehoods got one paragraph (mostly attributed to one accident by Kelley Ann Conway). I really miss Bernie Sanders.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mo Harper

    An interesting read, but it should have been subtitled, "How The Clintons Work The Smear" to alert the reader to who this book was really aimed at exposing. I don't have enough information to question her research, but the absence of investigation of right wing or Republican smear efforts was disappointing. At one point near the end, it almost seemed she was feeling sorry for poor Trump and the smears surrounding him. If you are looking for a balanced book on smears, don't read this. An interesting read, but it should have been subtitled, "How The Clintons Work The Smear" to alert the reader to who this book was really aimed at exposing. I don't have enough information to question her research, but the absence of investigation of right wing or Republican smear efforts was disappointing. At one point near the end, it almost seemed she was feeling sorry for poor Trump and the smears surrounding him. If you are looking for a balanced book on smears, don't read this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim Brown

    WOW!!!!! What you don't know can and probably does hurt you. I knew that Washington and New York were corrupt but to this degree? Seriously!!! Just about everything you see on TV, read in the papers or see on the Internet may have and probably was the result of false reporting or reporting based on some facts but definitely not all of the facts. More importantly people behind the scenes are being paid large amounts of money to insure WE see and hear ONLY what THEY want you to see and hear. Then WOW!!!!! What you don't know can and probably does hurt you. I knew that Washington and New York were corrupt but to this degree? Seriously!!! Just about everything you see on TV, read in the papers or see on the Internet may have and probably was the result of false reporting or reporting based on some facts but definitely not all of the facts. More importantly people behind the scenes are being paid large amounts of money to insure WE see and hear ONLY what THEY want you to see and hear. Then we like sheep repost, or retweet that which we have seen and/or heard. We have become part of their extremely deceptive network at almost not cost to them. This is a must read but I warn you ahead of time, you will read about things you maybe don't want to hear about and instead continue to live your life as if you are NOT being manipulated. Everyone should read this book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike Bushman

    If you think a journalist's job is to tell you what you already believe with hyperbolic exaggeration, you won't want to read this book. If you believe facts matter and scrutiny should be identical regardless of partisan, racial, gender or other labels, you'll find effective reporting and concisely shared insights on every page. "The Smear" explains the cognitive dissonance between what makes sense to fair-minded observers and what we hear from politicians and the news media. It's also a wake-up If you think a journalist's job is to tell you what you already believe with hyperbolic exaggeration, you won't want to read this book. If you believe facts matter and scrutiny should be identical regardless of partisan, racial, gender or other labels, you'll find effective reporting and concisely shared insights on every page. "The Smear" explains the cognitive dissonance between what makes sense to fair-minded observers and what we hear from politicians and the news media. It's also a wake-up call for those who blindly trust any institution.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Sharyl Attkisson is one of the few reliable journalists left and provides a clear picture of the world of fake news. "What you need to ask yourself isn't so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it - and why?" Sharyl Attkisson is one of the few reliable journalists left and provides a clear picture of the world of fake news. "What you need to ask yourself isn't so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it - and why?"

  14. 4 out of 5

    wally

    6 aye em, 3 aug 17, thursday...just finished this one. mind-boggling. it's not enough that i stopped watching "the evening news" at some point in the 90s when clinton was abusing the office of the presidency...and all the big-talking-heads made...um, headway, with words like "bimbo eruption"..."white trash"..."trailer trash"...the ever-popular "redneck" and a host of others...around the same time the news anchors used, without apology, the phrase "third world countries"...replaced by now, as you 6 aye em, 3 aug 17, thursday...just finished this one. mind-boggling. it's not enough that i stopped watching "the evening news" at some point in the 90s when clinton was abusing the office of the presidency...and all the big-talking-heads made...um, headway, with words like "bimbo eruption"..."white trash"..."trailer trash"...the ever-popular "redneck" and a host of others...around the same time the news anchors used, without apology, the phrase "third world countries"...replaced by now, as you know, with the slightly less offending "developing nations." there was a "march" at the lift bridge earlier this spring, one of two...i forget exactly what they were celebrating, or marching about. something fashionable. but one of the marchers, presumably either a graduated alumbical of the local university (m.t.u.) or a currently enrolled student, posted something like, "it's nice to know the area has more than uneducated rednecks"...oh, la! the local democratic party facebook page saw no offense in her remark, that was removed, when someone (who?) questioned it. i'm comforted with the knowledge that the zombies are (still) being taught not to denigrate the different at institutions like m.t.u. and i dread the day when those not-t0-be-denigrated include those currently deemed deplorable. me? they'll never learn. change the channel. 'bout the only satisfying quality of all the smears that have been growing and expanding and evolving is that hillary is not our president. trump won! heh! millions, MILLIONS spent and i had a blast listening to cnn (sirius radio, truck cab, kafvi aiga and lunch) spend five days at a time on SIGNIFICANT NEWS, like, corey lew grabbed an arm...what does it mean? how does it make you feel? will the convention erupt in riots? will blood be shed? or any other SIGNIFICANT NEWS that followed, followed by 5 days of coverage. meanwhile...back on the ranch. mind-boggling. eye-opening, too...parts about how some entities have created personalities, multiple personalities (that the psychiatric association has yet to define) to spread the love. this on top of pr firms, el-el-cees, others... with that kind of money, all designed to influence people...sheesh. but still. trump won. heh! it isn't alien possession, after all. perhaps the war planning against bullying will see success...what, fifty sixty years from now. 'til then... too bad joe heller isn't around to write another good as gold. the garden is green.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Devlin

    A solid effort that depicts how much collusion there really is. No, not between Trump and Russia, but between the news media and the Left. Her reportage is backed up by the wikileaks of all the DNC e-mails. While I was familiar with most of her facts, I was still surprised by how in the tank so many reporters were for Hillary. To the point where they were letting her campaign edit, and even write their articles. Additionally, these reporters who were outed now have better jobs in places like the A solid effort that depicts how much collusion there really is. No, not between Trump and Russia, but between the news media and the Left. Her reportage is backed up by the wikileaks of all the DNC e-mails. While I was familiar with most of her facts, I was still surprised by how in the tank so many reporters were for Hillary. To the point where they were letting her campaign edit, and even write their articles. Additionally, these reporters who were outed now have better jobs in places like the NYT. One can only conclude that these bastions of information condone their new reporters acting as clandestine mouthpieces for one political party. Otherwise, Attkisson details how often the Press is a mere front for political interests pushing an agenda. I would've liked more from her story but I see her other book probably details that much more.

  16. 5 out of 5

    colleen dolgan

    Great read I read it in two days...a real page turner. I felt years ago that mainstream news resembled The National Enquired. I'm sorry to insult that newspaper. Mainstream is worse. Thank you Sharyl for this good read. Great read I read it in two days...a real page turner. I felt years ago that mainstream news resembled The National Enquired. I'm sorry to insult that newspaper. Mainstream is worse. Thank you Sharyl for this good read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    Not as good as her first book, Stonewalled, especially the first half, in which she tends to talk in broad terms rather than citing specific support for her assertions, but it picks up nicely in the last few chapters.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sue K H

    Attkisson goes after both parties, the media, billionaire donors and large corporations. Great book for those of us not overly attached to a political party or ideology.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Mills

    Another startling, enlightening book by Sharyl Attkisson. Sadly reinforces our suspicions that the purpose of the media is no longer to disseminate truth to the public, but to serve as propaganda machines for their political chums, who in turn serve as puppets for powerful factions, most of which are not particularly interested in the welfare of the average American. Not only a fascinating read, but also sharpens our abilities to identify potential clues regarding the veracity of the massive amo Another startling, enlightening book by Sharyl Attkisson. Sadly reinforces our suspicions that the purpose of the media is no longer to disseminate truth to the public, but to serve as propaganda machines for their political chums, who in turn serve as puppets for powerful factions, most of which are not particularly interested in the welfare of the average American. Not only a fascinating read, but also sharpens our abilities to identify potential clues regarding the veracity of the massive amount of "news" available to us. The most succinct and valuable principle that I've walked away with is to examine the sources of information and ask oneself not only WHAT we are being told, but WHY are we being told. Just today someone shared a Trump smear on facebook (what else is new?) and I looked up the source ... Alternet... and found it to be a progressive organization with a clear agenda. This does not mean the information was wrong ... but certainly means there's a good chance it's slanted. There are many news sources firmly aligned with one faction or another; most disconcertingly, Ms. Attkisson gives concrete evidence that mainstream news sources are far from unbiased.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I can't. I just can't I want to read this. The reviews are good. But I find myself reading like this: Smear blah blah blah the left. Blah blah attack. Blah bitty blah blah blah the right. Some name I'm glossing over, blahs blah the Clintons. Fox News blah bitty blah. Literally. Like those are literally the words in my head. My eyes move left to right, drop down a line, left to right, drop, repeat. And I'm just pushing my eyes forwards and I want to pluck them out with a spork. This may be a totally I can't. I just can't I want to read this. The reviews are good. But I find myself reading like this: Smear blah blah blah the left. Blah blah attack. Blah bitty blah blah blah the right. Some name I'm glossing over, blahs blah the Clintons. Fox News blah bitty blah. Literally. Like those are literally the words in my head. My eyes move left to right, drop down a line, left to right, drop, repeat. And I'm just pushing my eyes forwards and I want to pluck them out with a spork. This may be a totally illuminating read. And maybe I really should read it. And maybe I'll revisit the book at some point and finish it. (Yeah, in like blah bitty blah days) But I'm crying uncle. With so much shit going on in politics, I'm already suspicious of all of them. There are suspect acts (ahem) on both sides. Right now, I just can't with this. The last words I read at night before I sleep cannot be these. At least right now.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Sheryl Attkisson is a thoughtful journalist who actually researches her stories. The Smear is an excellent history of the failure of journalism to remain independent and observant. Although attempts to smear people is nothing new, it has been brought to new heights in the age of the internet. After reading this book, I will never look at any news story quite the same way. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the current world of the media and the internet.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Ann

    "...[A]n effort to manipulate opinion by promulgating an overblown, scandalous, and damaging narrative. The goal is often to destroy ideas by ruining the people who are most effective at communicating them...Paid forces devise clever, covert ways to shape the total information landscape in ways you can't imagine." p. 3 "...[A]n effort to manipulate opinion by promulgating an overblown, scandalous, and damaging narrative. The goal is often to destroy ideas by ruining the people who are most effective at communicating them...Paid forces devise clever, covert ways to shape the total information landscape in ways you can't imagine." p. 3

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sue Shipley

    A startling look at how our news and information is manipulated. Vast sums of money are being spent to influence the population by a small group of people. Fake news is very real. This is really disturbing and terrifying.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

    Fascinating stuff, quite a bit frustrating too however.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Sharyl Attkisson was perhaps the last journalist with integrity in the mainstream media. As she recounts in her book, Stonewalled, the author was a card-carrying member in good standing with the mainstream media for many years, having won numerous awards, and having held a prestigious investigative reporting position at CBS. That changed when the last administration didn't like her reporting and pressured CBS to spike her stories. The Smear continues on, and basically documents the death of jour Sharyl Attkisson was perhaps the last journalist with integrity in the mainstream media. As she recounts in her book, Stonewalled, the author was a card-carrying member in good standing with the mainstream media for many years, having won numerous awards, and having held a prestigious investigative reporting position at CBS. That changed when the last administration didn't like her reporting and pressured CBS to spike her stories. The Smear continues on, and basically documents the death of journalism over the past few years. The author investigates the web of organizations run by David Brock, with Media Matters as the nexus, and she extensively documents how these organizations, in partnership with the DNC and the Clinton campaign, wrote smear stories for the mainstream media that were then dutifully published widely and uncritically. The mainstream media now sees itself as leftist partisan activists, e.g., asking the previous administration to help write their stories and to feed them questions for upcoming interviews with political opponents. In this new, post-fact world, it is very difficult for the busy, ordinary citizen to discover the truth about anything. As the author documents with myriad examples, the mainstream media is thoroughly compromised, publishing half-truths, spin, and outright lies. Buzzfeed, Salon, HuffPo, Slate, CNN and many others all report the same misinformation in concert so that it is very easy to live in an echo chamber where all you can hear is what Media Matters wants you to hear. Sadly, those who live in that echo chamber will never hear voices like Sharyl Attkisson. If her name is mentioned at all, it will invariably be in the context of her being smeared by the likes of Media Matters. The Smear is the result of solid investigative journalism. The author reports facts and evidence, facts and evidence. In the post-fact world, however, it is all too easy to dismiss her evidence in favor of the confirmation bias provided by the echo chamber. Goebbels famously said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The modern version might be: “If your social media influencers tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” And the corollary would be that the actual truth now appears to be suspect. Since this book was published, there is already a need for a follow-on book, as the media has gotten even worse. There seems to be something even more insidious going on, a psychological manipulation where emotional outrage is ginned up on click-bait social media and reinforced in the mainstream media in a way that is mentally harmful to those living in the echo chamber and maybe physically dangerous to themselves and others. In any case, I look forward to what this author does next. As she so clearly demonstrates with her work, integrity matters.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

    Sharyl Attkisson is one of the very few journalists today that I truly respect. She does it Old School by digging, following the facts, checking and rechecking sources, getting multiple sources, then printing the story and following up. Her stories on not all or mostly one-sided because she follows the facts. She has won prestigious journalism awards and had many featured stories on the news while at CBS, until she exposed the Fast and Furious government gun running program that put guns in the Sharyl Attkisson is one of the very few journalists today that I truly respect. She does it Old School by digging, following the facts, checking and rechecking sources, getting multiple sources, then printing the story and following up. Her stories on not all or mostly one-sided because she follows the facts. She has won prestigious journalism awards and had many featured stories on the news while at CBS, until she exposed the Fast and Furious government gun running program that put guns in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels. One of these guns was used by cartel gang members to kill one of our border patrol agents. Suddenly CBS management seemed to not have available newscast time to air her investigative findings. She also started noticing strange things like professional (government grade) hacking of her computer, you can read more about that in her book Stonewalled! With the career, background, contacts, and experiences she has had, she is in the best position to expose the smearing, character assassination, and flat out dirty tricks used by all sides in our political battles today. It seems that even facts can't get in the way of a good smear campaign. She exposes who is behind these supposedly "grass roots" campaigns with sincere and patriotic-sounding names with their money and their organizations. She explains how money is routed through many groups hands to try to obscure who the real donors and their agendas are. You may be surprised (although you really shouldn't be) at the small number of these "puppet masters" who are out to control politics and push their messages. This is not a for or against left or right book. As per her usual practice she calls out the players on all sides to give you the creeps about who is running the government and what they will do (or have done) to get there and stay there. I give you clear warning that you will need a jar of sanitizer and a shower after reading this book...but not because of the author or her work rather the information itself!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lorna Willard

    I have never written a book review before. But for this one I feel the need to write what I think. This corruption and distortion of information from most sources is used to control and extend the power of these power brokers and their causes in order to maintain their power and to push their agendas. While people like George Soros fund media projects focused on changing how journalists report news with directed and learned talking points he is not the only one. The corruption of facts and infor I have never written a book review before. But for this one I feel the need to write what I think. This corruption and distortion of information from most sources is used to control and extend the power of these power brokers and their causes in order to maintain their power and to push their agendas. While people like George Soros fund media projects focused on changing how journalists report news with directed and learned talking points he is not the only one. The corruption of facts and information ranges from our news sources, our political parties, special interest groups, our scientific community, our think tanks, and our government. Many of these agendas are truly radical and are aimed at destroying our Country and freedom of thought and speech. Sharyl Attkisson is one of the few reliable journalists (in my opinion incredibly brave) and one of the few left that provides a clear and dire picture of the world of news (some call it fake news but is seems prevalent across all platforms to me). Other questions to ask, "What you need to ask yourself isn't so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it - and why?" I will be purchasing this book for a number of my friends and relatives. We all need to be aware of what is happening not just in our Country but in our world.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Well researched, well-written, informative, not too preachy, pretty balanced views and definitely some scary shit inside these pages. The art of 'fake news', 'smearing' or whatever else you want to call it - even if you only believe half of what is in these pages, it will make you wonder - is everything we read/hear/consume real, or is it serving an agenda somewhere. Definitely worth a read - whether you like or don't like this book - it will make you think, and start a conversation. Thats a goo Well researched, well-written, informative, not too preachy, pretty balanced views and definitely some scary shit inside these pages. The art of 'fake news', 'smearing' or whatever else you want to call it - even if you only believe half of what is in these pages, it will make you wonder - is everything we read/hear/consume real, or is it serving an agenda somewhere. Definitely worth a read - whether you like or don't like this book - it will make you think, and start a conversation. Thats a good sign.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Wow, just wow !!! She clearly explains how our politics have devolved into nothing more than mud-slinging and attacking the opposition. It is not wonder that a decent person would not want to get involved in the snake pit that is our current political system. Well worth reading !!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    The best thing about this book is that it fits its own definition of smear.

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