A powerful critique of how manipulation of media gives rise to disinformation, intolerance, and divisiveness, and how we can fight back.
The role of news media in a free society is to investigate, inform, and provide a crucial check on political power. But does it?
It's no secret that the goal of corporate-owned media is to increase the profits of the few, not to empower the many. As a result, people are increasingly immersed in an information system structured to reinforce their social biases and market to their buying preferences. Journalism's essential role has been drastically compromised, and Donald Trump's repeated claims of "fake news" and framing of the media as an "enemy of the people" have made a bad scenario worse.
Written in the spirit of resistance and hope, United States of Distraction offers a clear, concise appraisal of our current situation, and presents readers with action items for how to improve it.
Dr. Nolan Higdon is professor of History and Communication at California State University, East Bay. His academic work primarily focuses on news media, propaganda, critical media literacy, and social justice pedagogies. He has been a guest commentator for news media outlets such as The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. He is a board member for the Media Freedom Foundation, frequent contributor to Project Censored's annual Censored books series, a co-founder of the Global Critical Media Literacy Project, a program advisor for Sacred Heart University Media Literacy and Digital Culture Graduate Program, a steering committee member for the Union for Democratic Communications, and co-host of the Project Censored radio show.
Jaisal Noor is a host, producer, and reporter for The Real News Network. With his expertise in education policy and systemic inequity, he focuses on Baltimore, Maryland. He mainly grew up in the Baltimore area and studied modern history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining TRNN, he contributed print, radio, and TV reports to Free Speech Radio News, Democracy Now! and The Indypendent.
"A war of distraction is underway, media is the weapon, and our minds are the battlefield. Higdon and Huff have written a brilliant book of how we've gotten to this point, and how to educate ourselves to fight back and win."––Henry A. Giroux, author of American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism
"Higdon and Huff have produced the best short introduction to the nature of Trump-era journalism and how the 'Post-Truth' media world is inimical to a democratic society that I have seen. The book is provocative and an entertaining read. Best of all, the analysis in United States of Distraction leads to concrete and do-able recommendations for how we can rectify this deplorable situation."—Robert W. McChesney, author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times and Gutgsell Endowed Professor, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"The U.S. wouldn't be able to hide its empire in plain sight were it not for the subservient 'free' press. United States of Distraction shows, in chilling detail, America's major media dysfunction––how the gutting of the fourth estate paved the road for fascism and what tools are critical to salvage our democracy."––Abby Martin, The Empire Files
"Mickey Huff and Nolan Higdon emphasize what we can do today to restore the power of facts, truth, and fair, inclusive journalism as tools for people to keep political and corporate power subordinate to the engaged citizenry and the common good."—Ralph Nader