Politicians and the media are natural enemies, but in recent times, the relationship has exploded into all-out war. Think about bimbo eruptions, DUI arrests, cocaine parties, National Guard service records, Swift Boat veterans. Think about two generations of Bush presidents up against Dan Rather. Think about who lost. Craig Crawford has seen it all up close and personal, and he is disturbed by what he sees. When politicians turn the public against the media, everyone loses—especially unbiased and courageous news reporting. When veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas is banished from her front-row post, as she has been in the current administration—the American public is denied the chance to consider her pointed questions, even if they go unanswered. Worse, when traditional reporters and media are displaced, the pundits and alternative media take over. Rush Limbaugh, The O'Reilly Factor, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, and the bloggers have their place in American politics, and the 2004 elections showed the incredible power of the Internet. These media, however, are a different breed, as Crawford points out—they serve a purpose, but at a cost. They become "opinion merchants," bartering outrageous assertions for audience appeal with little attention to the truth. These days, the truth is hard to find. If the press is not believed—or believable—because politicians have turned the public against it, then the press is not free, but under the thumbs of politicians. Without a free press, there is no democracy. That, says Crawford, is where we find ourselves today. If you don't like the news, attack the messenger, and it will go away. Going, going, gone.
I have covered many a presidential campaign with Craig Crawford, and I can honestly say that, of all the so-called 'political experts' out there, he definitely consumes the most cheeseburgers.
Craig Crawford has written a definitive book that throws new light on the roles of the press and officialdom with sparkling anecdotes that prove his point. He doesn't spare either side, but the First Amendment comes out a winner in this scintillating book.
How lies are made into the truth, and truth made into lies; how the liars come to be perceived as victims and the truth-tellers, evildoers. A cautionary story for those of all political stripes, to say nothing of journalists and those who consume information today, and Crawford's nailed it.
anchor and managing editor
It's all here—the good, the bad, and the ugly . . . and cable, too—all compiled by a political pro with a jeweler's eye for detail and the distance vision of a fighter pilot. Craig Crawford knows his beat.
Craig's book made me alternately squeal with delight at the media's arrogance and curse his mother, Toby, for giving him life where he reveals the complicity of politicians in the contemporary degradation of political/press affairs. But Attack the Messenger is not about assigning blame; its an inspiration to stop the madness for democracy's sake. The media must stop presuming all politicians are corrupt, egomaniacal liars, and we pols have to consider the possibility that not all media are evil, self-serving, out-of-touch cynics. Both professions are anchored in ideas, populated with idealists who all rue their tradecrafts have degenerated to a point that devalues both their noble worlds and worse—the public they both long to serve.
With wit and insider knowledge, Craig Crawford identifies America's Most Wanted: the con-men, spinners, character assassins, electronic demagogues, greedy bottom-liners, and barefaced liars who—with rather too much help from sloppiness in the media—are destroying public faith in the institution of a free press. This is a timely and entertaining book—which is more than I can say for most of the people in its gallery.
St. Petersburg Times
- David Shribman
Crawford . . . is a Washington insider, a purveyor of inside wisdom and a collector of mind-numbing detail.
The New York Times
- Michiko Kakutani
Provocative. . . . Mr. Crawford's book serves as a useful introduction to the issue at hand, providing a persuasive sketch of how the current White House, with assists from its two predecessors and a changing media landscape, has worked to undermine the mainstream press.
- Margaret Sullivan
Crawford often writes engagingly and has his moments of perceptiveness and clarity.
Chapter 1 Turning the Tables Chapter 2 Blame the Messenger Chapter 3 A President Lies Chapter 4 Spinning Lies Chapter 5 A War Story Chapter 6 Who Will Tell the Truth? Chapter 7 The End of an Era Chapter 8 Winners and Losers Chapter 9 Media Culpa Chapter 10 How to Get the Real Story Chapter 11 What Now?