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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  17,369 ratings  ·  869 reviews
In this pathbreaking work, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky show that, contrary to the usual image of the news media as cantankerous, obstinate, and ubiquitous in their search for truth and defense of justice, in their actual practice they defend the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global ...more
Paperback, Reprint edition, 412 pages
Published 2002 by Pantheon (first published 1988)
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Joe Defiant It's a structured book written by both Chomsky and Edward Herman. Lots of references/sources based on examples throughout history where two similar ev…moreIt's a structured book written by both Chomsky and Edward Herman. Lots of references/sources based on examples throughout history where two similar events happened at about the same time, one the US supported, the other the US denounced. It shows how US supported atrocities get almost 0 coverage and "official enemy" atrocities get endless coverage with detailed examples of both. It also details how there is basically goal posts in media coverage and anything between them is covered but anything to the right or left is not, not by some secret cabal meeting behind closed doors, simply by corporate media acting like a corporation.

There is a documentary widely available for viewing online that you could watch to get an idea of what the book is about that has the same title. The book is much more detailed obviously.(less)
David Rackowitz I beliieve his position on nuclear arms for Pakistan are consistent with his other statements on nuclear arms. Chomsky is not in favor of nuclear prol…moreI beliieve his position on nuclear arms for Pakistan are consistent with his other statements on nuclear arms. Chomsky is not in favor of nuclear proliferation.(less)

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Mario the lone bookwolf
The illusion of a mature, open minded awareness is a constructed propaganda model.

Reread 2021 with extended review

In modern media, it´s important to never let the uncomfortable and in-depth facts crawl too close to the light, and to achieve this it´s best to mention them in the shortest newsflashes at lousy airtime and in subsidiary columns with ten words. It´s a difficult but essential game, because if a media company completely forgets such a report it could be exposed to the criticism of not
Nandakishore Mridula
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
I passed up a chance to buy this book some twenty years ago, and have not been able to locate a copy since. It's a shame, because Chomsky talks about how the so-called "free" press is anything but free: they are bent on fabricating news to manufacture consent among the populace to further their corporate agenda. Chomsky describes how this has been done from the Vietnam war to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This is all the more relevant, as I am physically now witnessing such an exercise. A cor
Michael Finocchiaro
On the even more intellectual edge of the left, Noam Chomsky has relentlessly fought against the blindness of American foreign policy and how the press manipulates public opinion to endorse and encourage catastrophes such as the Vietnam War (and more recently, the disaster of the two Iraq Wars, the War in Afghanistan, etc.) This book explains how the press (even when it takes a slightly more critical view of events), is still at heart manipulating the truth in service of power. The most recent e ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, recs
Forceful and harrowing, Manufacturing Consent lucidly breaks down how the U.S. mass media dutifully serves elite interests. Authors Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman demonstrate through a series of incisive case studies that, more often than not, America’s massive media conglomerates parrot the agenda of the government and major multinational corporations; to the extent that dissent is featured, the pair of writers illustrate, it is limited to disagreement among elites. Hopping from Eastern Europe ...more
Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: media
I've been a journalist for 15 years now, and I've often wondered how it is that the mass media in the United States manage to project the image of being defenders of democracy while actually deterring it.

Having just read "Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media," by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, I finally understand as thoroughly as I've always wanted to.

Where to begin ... for starters, have you ever heard of worthy and unworthy victims?

Did you know that the press was fa
Roy Lotz
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Convenient mythologies require neither evidence nor logic.

Once, I worked at a market research firm that specialized in print media. I learned quite a few things. For one, there are magazines and journals for everything—from fly-fishing to industrial food-processing equipment, from alpaca farming to professional clown associations. One particular magazine, for yacht owners, taught me something about wealth inequality. But all of the magazines taught me about the importance of ad revenue. Whil
Let's unpack this modern classic on the role of propaganda in perpetuating imperialism:

The Good:
--While "Manufacturing Consent" has become a subtitle to "Noam Chomsky", Herman seems to be the primary author of this book. Nevertheless, I felt the need to go through Chomsky's most-read book to evaluate the details for this often-cited framework.

--Having heard Chomsky summarize media propaganda elsewhere, what stood out with this book's presentation are:

1) Providing the 5 propaganda filters preven
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Politicians are like hookers. You can't be one unless you can pretend to like people while you're fucking them.

In summary the propaganda model works like this: Bullshit politician with biased information is seen as an expert. Expert gives bullshit to news organization to inform the public. News organization repeats bullshit with cute voices and opinions. We all become stupid, except Chomsky. He writes this book. You read it. Become depressed and kill yourself.

I don't think I can do a serious r
Natalie aka Tannat
Hard to rate. The ideas were great but it was a real slog of a read, so I can't recommend it. Paragraphs like the following were not uncommon:
"Meanwhile, because of the power of establishment sources, the flak machines, and anti-Communist ideology, we would anticipate outcries that the worthy victims are being sorely neglected, that the unworthy are treated with excessive and uncritical generosity, that the media's liberal, adversarial (if not subversive) hostility to government explains our dif
May 舞
Apr 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A well-researched and eye-opening book. It came as no wonder to me that the U.S. government basically screws over every other nation which is deemed not Capitalist/Neo-liberal enough, or is not an ally and thus whatever atrocities committed within its borders are acceptable, as this does not serve the financial and political interests of those in power, namely the mega-corporations, their owners, and their lobbyists.

What truly shocked me though was the extent to which the U.S. interefered with
Paul DeBusschere
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
In Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky present an outdated and flawed thesis asserting government and corporate control over mass media to promote a right-wing agenda, yet still makes some valid points regarding propaganda in the media. By cherry-picking a handful of egregious media missteps related to foreign policy, the authors hope to convince readers of the media's complicity in pushing a right-wing corporate/government agenda to deceive the American public.

One problem with all this st
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every citizen of an industrial democracy
This was one of the books that had a great impact on my life. It's an amazing and comprehensive exploration of the origin, development and operation of the modern media. The authors come at this material from the standpoint that the media functions primarily as a powerful tool for social control. The world view presented in the media is essentially that of the ruling classes and the rest of us plebes are locked out of it all. We are passive consumers of the bullshit being fed to us by large corp ...more
Jeff Menter
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you can slog through it (not that it's written poorly, it's just that the subjects that are covered have, to most people, the intrinsic appeal of lint analysis) you will be rewarded with a new way to look at the mass media and a new framework with which you can apply your own critical analysis.

Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Smart people wrote this book. I don't say that because it was hard to understand at times (and it was), because that stemmed just from being verbose. I say it took smart people because the amount of data gathered and the analysis to tie to together was quite astounding.

The summary of the book is as follows: The US-media is a controlled information relay system (propaganda). The authors set forth a "propaganda model" that they see being employed in our media for decades. It isn't done in a secret
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journalstic
I first added this to my 'books to read' list after watching the movie, "Good Will Hunting". I was not disappointed. This book is one of the best, if not the the most well written book I've read. I don't mean to say that the information was so life-altering that I will never be the same. But first and simply, that their sentence structure and flow of thought is clear, engaging and pieced together masterfully. They sift through a lot of information, wading through fact and fabrication that they s ...more
Infuriatingly and terrifyingly relevant. Like, up to this very day, where you couldn’t even update the book with current examples because there are too many to choose from. Venezuela, Syria, Iran. Ad infinitum. It’s all following the same script. Where you could argue the book is dated, that actually further proves its point, such as the west’s support and glorification of Putin thirty years ago when he fit their needs in a different way. It’s all narrative. And it’s all managed to achieve an en ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I was studying political science during my undergrad circa 98-02, I had a little button that I wore for years that simply said ‘Read more Chomsky’.
I’ve read many of his books, but nothing in at least 15 years so I decided it was time to return to that buttons advice.
Picking up Manufacturing Consent, a book on my bookshelf that has been there for years without having been read, was like enjoying a bottle of my favourite wine, that I haven’t drank in eons. It’s just so good! So smart! Love
Emma Sea
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very thorough, comprehensive account of how "media serve, and propagandize on behalf of, the powerful societal interests that control and finance them."

The weak point of the book is that the examples discussed are so old (Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, etc) that I doubt the book will be accessible to Gen Y or younger. The 2002 edition I read has a new introduction with more recent discussions, but I think the book needs a complete new edition.

Although it's from a pre-internet world it is even mor
David Cupples
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant analysis by one of the great scientists of all time. Totally refutes the myth of the "liberal media" and secondly, the myth that this (nonexistent) liberal media is responsible for defeat in the Vietnam War. Clarifies that the war was not a mistake but a crime as defined by the Geneva Conventions (and common decency, I might add). Chomsky has consistently pointed out that in poll after poll the American public is well to the left of the supposed "liberal media." Beware of polls with tr ...more
Francesca Calarco
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman present a compelling (and horrifying) case for a type of media bias they deem the “propaganda model” in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

Published at the end of the Reagan era, the framework of the two authors’ argument stems largely from case studies of Cold War conflict overseas. They contend that much of the (U.S.) media coverage of U.S. involvement in Latin American, the Middle East, and most notably Vietnam, is inherently flaw
I'm a bit surprised I didn't get around to reading Manufacturing Consent years ago. I suppose I wasn't especially shocked by any of Chomsky's findings or analysis, as a 27 year old who's read a fair number of left texts, but it remains solid, necessary research, and (perhaps borne out of familiarity) I was especially taken by the sections on America's quagmiring of Laos and Cambodia. Yes, at this stage, I am probably the wrong audience, but I know, know, that if I could send it to myself 10 year ...more
Jim Drewes
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
If I'd have just read the first chapter of the book, I would have given it a 3 or 4 star review. But in its entirety, it gets a 2. It is terribly boring, and it isn't the unassailable crown jewel of political literature that so many reviewers make it out to be.

First - take all the 4 and 5 star reviews with a grain of salt. Read them, and ask yourself how much sense it makes. Many of the reviews will comment on how brilliant the book is, but will also note that it was difficult to get through. To
April Hawkins
I read this entire work from cover to cover. It took me 9 mos. 9 mos. of suffering for this one. I'm not ashamed. I learned a lot, though there were also things that went over my head. It is NOT for the lay person. You need previous knowledge of the people and places he describes. Don't get me wrong, I love Chomsky, I think he's probably the smartest person alive today, but his writing is a headache to read. And I became very discouraged at times and wanted to quit. But I didn't quit, and now he ...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
A superb read on the media and the propaganda machine within our so-called "democratic" or "free" society. Meticulously researched and cited this book gave me mental push-ups for about 6 months while I chugged through it. Accessible in some areas, daunting in others, this book has a tremendous amount to offer. Not for the feint of heart. If you haven't read Chomsky before, I'd recommend listening to his lectures and/or reading some of his shorter works. I felt smarter and stupider after finishin ...more
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leftwing-theory
indispensable. basic thesis is that cappy 'journalism' will filter out certain information as a matter of structural necessity. premise is that debate shall be fiercely encouraged within a narrow ideological window in order to achieve a conformity of opinion unseen in torturer states; opinion outside the window is to be ignored and discarded as crazed. develops ideas articulated in the two-volume PEHR. ...more
Feb 28, 2021 added it
as someone who, personally, is immune to propaganda, it was interesting to read about how other people's consent is manufactured. like a particularly disturbing episode of "How It's Made" where the final product is the citizenry's views on foreign policy (but not mine, though, bc mine were artisanally hand-crafted by myself without any external inputs; no offense to Garfield but I'm different)

this also kind of works as a crash course on U.S. international affairs in the 70s and early 80s
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read the first chapter of this book in college, as part of an assignment. I found the thesis profound: state propaganda doesn't necessarily require a conspiracy to control the media. Certain aspects of the media itself can end up with the same result, with no state oversight necessary. It gives five such aspects:

"The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news 'filters,' fall under the following headings: (1) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientat
Rae Diaz
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
listen, i'm disassociating as i write this and it's likely that i was in a similar state of mind half of the times i picked up this book but i'll wipe my own slate. i admit didn't read the entire book, i got up to the part about the pessimistic coverage of the Tet Offensive, so page 240?
it was a good book, don't get me wrong. this book is absolutely brimming with quotes, real life events, and references. it's thoroughly researched and in the end that's what made me stop reading it. it's so acad
Naveed Qazi
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the very rare critiques of mainstream media, presented by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, ‘Manufacturing Consent’ – has been a path breaking, definitive and objective model against mainstream media institutions. A book widely which is widely acclaimed and read throughout.

‘Manufacturing Consent’ is an insightful critique of history, politics and media. However, the most unique style drafted by Noam and Herman, which is worth mentioning, is the usage of the ’propaganda model’ – a systemati
Chris Dietzel
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've wanted to read this for a while because it's unanimously noted by the hand full of journalists I hold in high esteem as being hugely impactful to them. After reading it, I can see why, and I have a renewed appreciation for the very few people who report unbiased news. I'm familiar with just about all of the basic concepts Herman and Chomsky discuss in the book but I've never read such a thorough analysis of the ways the U.S. media distorts, misrepresents, or just plain ignores events to fit ...more
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Edward S. Herman was an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media. He was Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He also taught at Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor of Arts from University of Pennsylvania in 19 ...more

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