Facts are and must be the coin of the realm in a democracy, for government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” requires and assumes to some extent an informed citizenry. Unfortunately, for citizens in the United States and throughout the world, distinguishing between fact and fiction has always been a formidable challenge, often with real life and death consequences. But now it is more difficult and confusing than ever. The Internet Age makes comment indistinguishable from fact, and erodes authority. It is liberating but annihilating at the same time.
For those wielding power, whether in the private or the public sector, the increasingly sophisticated control of information is regarded as utterly essential to achieving success. Internal information is severely limited, including calendars, memoranda, phone logs and emails. History is sculpted by its absence.
Often those in power strictly control the flow of information, corroding and corrupting its content, of course, using newspapers, radio, television and other mass means of communication to carefully consolidate their authority and cover their crimes in a thick veneer of fervent racialism or nationalism. And always with the specter of some kind of imminent public threat, what Hannah Arendt called ‘objective enemies.'”
An epiphanic, public comment about the Bush “war on terror” years was made by an unidentified White House official revealing how information is managed and how the news media and the public itself are regarded by those in power: “[You journalists live] “in what we call the reality-based community. [But] that's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality . . . we're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” And yet, as aggressive as the Republican Bush administration was in attempting to define reality, the subsequent, Democratic Obama administration may be more so.
Into the battle for truth steps Charles Lewis, a pioneer of journalistic objectivity. His book looks at the various ways in which truth can be manipulated and distorted by governments, corporations, even lone individuals. He shows how truth is often distorted or diminished by delay: truth in time can save terrible erroneous choices. In part a history of communication in America, a cri de coeur for the principles and practice of objective reporting, and a journey into several notably labyrinths of deception, 935 Lies is a valorous search for honesty in an age of casual, sometimes malevolent distortion of the facts.
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About the Author
A bestselling author and national investigative journalist for the past thirty years, Charles Lewis is a tenured professor of journalism and, since 2008, the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. He is the founder of The Center for Public Integrity and several other nonprofit organizations. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
Prologue: 935 Lies xi
1 Our First Casualty 1
2 The Public's Right to Know: The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, and a Triumph for Truth 27
3 Race: The American Delusion 55
4 America's Secret Foreign Policy and the Arrogance of Power 83
5 Doubt Is Their Product: The Corporate War on Truth 115
6 Where Have You Gone, Edward R. Murrow? 153
7 A Watchdog in the Corridors of Power 179
8 The Future of Truth 199
A Note from the Author 239
Appendix A Real-Time Truth Charts 249
Appendix B The Iraq War Card 253
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An excellent read, especially at a time when corporate America seems to garner special protection from the Supreme Court. We find that corporate America has no soul when it comes to dispensing the news. Profits above controversy. The book is essentially divided into two parts. The first discusses how lying is a precondition to leadership. The second half of the book is more self-promotional. I just wish the author had spent more time developing the first half of the book.
This book tells you all you need to know about the decline of truth in our society. It's a must-read for anyone with a conscience.
I heard Lewis talking on a radio program, and I just had to order this book. I'M VERY GLAD THAT I DID!
Charles Lewis has done us a favor with this detailed and highly readable account of government mendaciousness. Spoiler alert! It will make you furious!