On Mark Levin’s ‘Unfreedom of the Press’

So I picked up Mark Levin’s “Unfreedom of the Press” from the Toronto Public Library with all the obvious qualifications about who the author was. (The image below should set the stage fairly well).

After finishing it, I now categorize this is a mostly bad book with very few bright spots (equivalent to a 2 star review). The book begins in a very promising manner with a very concise summary of the general nature of the today’s press. In it, he briefly discusses the ideas of uniformity of thought, social activism, narrative building, the opacity of the newsrooms, predictable (over)reactions to criticism, etc. So I was actually looking forward to a more detailed discussion of these topics in the coming chapters. But deep into the first chapter, I knew this was going to be a disappointment.

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First of all, this book reads like a massive literature review separated into different chapters based on themes. At least half the book is quotes from other books, articles, opinions, editorials, etc. that are included here to build the desired narrative and to make the necessary points. Sometimes it works, but mostly it just drags on and makes it hard to understand what point the author is trying to make.

Secondly, this book reads a lot like a documentation of all the anti-Trump media coverage over the past 3 years. The media’s anti-Trump bias obviously exists and I don’t need any convincing about it. I may personally have nothing good to ever say about that man, but that is independent of the liberal media’s relentless negative coverage of him. This book spends more than half its space ‘defending’ Trump while also documenting all the -ve coverage he has received.  The author obviously makes sure to include the most blatant episodes of hypocrisy that the media exhibited the past 3 years in this aspect.

The bright spots come in bits and pieces but never last long enough. For instance, the chapter on media as a tool of propaganda starts off by articulating well the idea of propaganda and how the media can allow itself to be manipulated or choose to do so willfully. He gives the example of how Ben Rhodes helped sell the Iran nuclear deal to the American public during Obama’s tenure. That was actually a good insightful story. But right after that, he spends the next 10 pages castigating the media for being a propaganda machine for climate change and not providing a platform for the ‘skeptics’! The only other bright spots are the few articles that I was able to glean off of the references and the passages he quotes. I was very impressed with some of them that I bookmarked them all for future reference. Another definite highlight is the rather elaborate summary of the New York Times’s general anti-Semitic coverage from the time of the Holocaust to current day Israel.

What I was hoping for was a discussion on the reasons, consequences, principles & techniques for and of media bias – supported by examples. That these examples would be largely in the ‘liberal bias’ category was something to be expected given who the author was. But in the end, I found very little of any of that, and just a lot of Trump defense and a documentation of media’s hate towards him.

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