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The Smear: How the Secret Art of Character Assassination Controls What You Think, What You Read, and How You Vote

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,060 ratings  ·  196 reviews

Ever wonder how politics turned into a take-no-prisoners blood sport? The New York Times bestselling author of Stonewalled pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions.

Behind most major political stories in the modern era, there is an agenda; an effort by opposition researchers,

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Hardcover, 294 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Harper
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David Hyder I'm about halfway through it. Scary stuff. It goes beyond my wildest fears.…moreI'm about halfway through it. Scary stuff. It goes beyond my wildest fears. (less)
Devra Doiron Depends on your book club. If you're lucky enough to belong to one where everyone has an open mind, go for it. But if, like much of America,…moreDepends on your book club. If you're lucky enough to belong to one where everyone has an open mind, go for it. But if, like much of America, polarization has robbed your friends of their ability to participate in rational discourse, this book might not be a good choice. (less)
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Paul
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
i initially was going to give this more stars as the introduction and first chapter are well balanced and a keen deconstruction of modern media. however the author quickly leans to the right which is fair yet i found her focus on media matters smears wearying. i think this is an important book to read but bear in mind the right are not squeaky clean whan it comes to smears
L.A. Starks
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Abigt
Jul 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The show where that promoted the book was nothing like it. The story was mainly about how companies are manipulating people. I've made it through 9 of the 12 chapters and I'm calling it quits. After the news story I kept waiting to hear how the other side does it too. But it never came. Just Hilary, Hilary Hilary then poor Trump.

To sum up the book Hilary Clinton is the head of a liberal conspiracy hell bent on enriching herself at our expense while crushing the GOP. The GOP has only ever
...more
Julie
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Attkisson concludes with this sobering warning:

“One thing you can count on is that most every image that crosses your path has been put there for a reason. Nothing happens by accident. What you need to ask yourself isn’t so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it—and why?”
Bill
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As an English professor who teaches first-year writing and graduate seminars on argument, I welcomed the opportunity to read something current on propaganda and fake news. I did find much of value that rings true regarding smear campaigns, the corruption of the media by corporate interests, and the use of astroturf groups. Ultimately, though, Attkisson has written an ironically dishonest book. I knew nothing of her when I picked the book off the shelves at Barnes & Noble. I perhaps should ...more
Rob
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Behind most major political stories there is an agenda – to destroy an idea or the people advancing it. Sharyl Attkisson does a great job explaining how sophisticated operatives on both sides of the aisle work behind the scenes to establish narratives, manipulate journalists, and shape the images you see every day. Nothing is by accident, and you’ll never again watch the evening news in the same old, comfortable way. No matter what you already suspected, this one’s an eye-opener.
Christopher Lawson
**REVIEW UPDATE**

I rarely change the rating I give for a book. After reconsidering my review, I realized I had no reason to not give this book the top rating. So--now 5 stars.

In THE SMEAR, Sharyl Attkisson argues that regular folks are easy targets for false information or smear campaigns: “The public has no idea of the extent to which news is influenced by smear merchants.” This situation didn’t just happen—it’s been a long time coming: “The past two decades have served as an ideal incubator
...more
Mo Harper
Jan 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
An interesting read, but it should have been subtitled, "How The Clintons Work The Smear" to alert the reader to who this book was really aimed at exposing. I don't have enough information to question her research, but the absence of investigation of right wing or Republican smear efforts was disappointing. At one point near the end, it almost seemed she was feeling sorry for poor Trump and the smears surrounding him. If you are looking for a balanced book on smears, don't read this.
Annie Oosterwyk
Jan 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Yep, politics are ugly and you should definitely look into the author's bias. The entire book was focused on the evil liberal media and Trump's falsehoods got one paragraph (mostly attributed to one accident by Kelley Ann Conway).
I really miss Bernie Sanders.
wally
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: attkisson
6 aye em, 3 aug 17, thursday...just finished this one. mind-boggling. it's not enough that i stopped watching "the evening news" at some point in the 90s when clinton was abusing the office of the presidency...and all the big-talking-heads made...um, headway, with words like "bimbo eruption"..."white trash"..."trailer trash"...the ever-popular "redneck" and a host of others...around the same time the news anchors used, without apology, the phrase "third world countries"...replaced by now, as you ...more
Jim Brown
WOW!!!!! What you don't know can and probably does hurt you. I knew that Washington and New York were corrupt but to this degree? Seriously!!! Just about everything you see on TV, read in the papers or see on the Internet may have and probably was the result of false reporting or reporting based on some facts but definitely not all of the facts. More importantly people behind the scenes are being paid large amounts of money to insure WE see and hear ONLY what THEY want you to see and hear. Then ...more
Mike Bushman
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you think a journalist's job is to tell you what you already believe with hyperbolic exaggeration, you won't want to read this book. If you believe facts matter and scrutiny should be identical regardless of partisan, racial, gender or other labels, you'll find effective reporting and concisely shared insights on every page. "The Smear" explains the cognitive dissonance between what makes sense to fair-minded observers and what we hear from politicians and the news media. It's also a wake-up ...more
Bill
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sharyl Attkisson is one of the few reliable journalists left and provides a clear picture of the world of fake news. "What you need to ask yourself isn't so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it - and why?"
colleen dolgan
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read

I read it in two days...a real page turner. I felt years ago that mainstream news resembled The National Enquired. I'm sorry to insult that newspaper. Mainstream is worse. Thank you Sharyl for this good read.
Sue K H
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Attkisson goes after both parties, the media, billionaire donors and large corporations. Great book for those of us not overly attached to a political party or ideology.
Nancy Mills
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another startling, enlightening book by Sharyl Attkisson. Sadly reinforces our suspicions that the purpose of the media is no longer to disseminate truth to the public, but to serve as propaganda machines for their political chums, who in turn serve as puppets for powerful factions, most of which are not particularly interested in the welfare of the average American.
Not only a fascinating read, but also sharpens our abilities to identify potential clues regarding the veracity of the massive
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Elizabeth
Aug 29, 2017 marked it as ugh-i-quit  ·  review of another edition
I can't. I just can't

I want to read this. The reviews are good. But I find myself reading like this:

Smear blah blah blah the left. Blah blah attack. Blah bitty blah blah blah the right. Some name I'm glossing over, blahs blah the Clintons. Fox News blah bitty blah.

Literally. Like those are literally the words in my head. My eyes move left to right, drop down a line, left to right, drop, repeat. And I'm just pushing my eyes forwards and I want to pluck them out with a spork.

This may be a totally
...more
Sandra
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
Sheryl Attkisson is a thoughtful journalist who actually researches her stories. The Smear is an excellent history of the failure of journalism to remain independent and observant. Although attempts to smear people is nothing new, it has been brought to new heights in the age of the internet. After reading this book, I will never look at any news story quite the same way.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the current world of the media and the internet.
Ruth Ann
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...[A]n effort to manipulate opinion by promulgating an overblown, scandalous, and damaging narrative. The goal is often to destroy ideas by ruining the people who are most effective at communicating them...Paid forces devise clever, covert ways to shape the total information landscape in ways you can't imagine." p. 3
David
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Fascinating stuff, quite a bit frustrating too however.
Melinda
Well researched, well-written, informative, not too preachy, pretty balanced views and definitely some scary shit inside these pages. The art of 'fake news', 'smearing' or whatever else you want to call it - even if you only believe half of what is in these pages, it will make you wonder - is everything we read/hear/consume real, or is it serving an agenda somewhere. Definitely worth a read - whether you like or don't like this book - it will make you think, and start a conversation. Thats a ...more
Tim
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sharyl Attkisson was perhaps the last journalist with integrity in the mainstream media. As she recounts in her book, Stonewalled, the author was a card-carrying member in good standing with the mainstream media for many years, having won numerous awards, and having held a prestigious investigative reporting position at CBS. That changed when the last administration didn't like her reporting and pressured CBS to spike her stories.

The Smear continues on, and basically documents the death of
...more
Lorna Willard
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never written a book review before. But for this one I feel the need to write what I think.

This corruption and distortion of information from most sources is used to control and extend the power of these power brokers and their causes in order to maintain their power and to push their agendas. While people like George Soros fund media projects focused on changing how journalists report news with directed and learned talking points he is not the only one. The corruption of facts and
...more
John Devlin
A solid effort that depicts how much collusion there really is. No, not between Trump and Russia, but between the news media and the Left.

Her reportage is backed up by the wikileaks of all the DNC e-mails. While I was familiar with most of her facts, I was still surprised by how in the tank so many reporters were for Hillary. To the point where they were letting her campaign edit, and even write their articles. Additionally, these reporters who were outed now have better jobs in places like the
...more
Joel
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not as good as her first book, Stonewalled, especially the first half, in which she tends to talk in broad terms rather than citing specific support for her assertions, but it picks up nicely in the last few chapters.
Steve
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, just wow !!! She clearly explains how our politics have devolved into nothing more than mud-slinging and attacking the opposition. It is not wonder that a decent person would not want to get involved in the snake pit that is our current political system.

Well worth reading !!!
Sue Shipley
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A startling look at how our news and information is manipulated. Vast sums of money are being spent to influence the population by a small group of people. Fake news is very real. This is really disturbing and terrifying.
Denise
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Riveting!

Sharyl Attkisson is my new hero. Read it and share it! Thank you, Sharyl, for your courage, tenacity, and professionalism.
John D Leas
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening but sad

The author is a great investigative reporter
The book is eye opening and I draw the conclusion of who is telling the truth
Sadly I don't watch any mainstream news networks anymore
Michael Springer
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a terrifying book for anyone who has even the slightest naïve notion that the news business is actually news. Walter Cronkite is dead, folks, and he has been replaced by an industry of smear merchants who have developed character assassination into a low but lucrative art. The smear business may not have started with the Clintons, but they and their associates refined the business model. Sharyl Attkisson is a serious and respected journalist (that's why you don't see her on any of the ...more
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“We're living amid an artificial reality, persuaded to believe it's real by astroturf engineered to look like grassroots.” 2 likes
“The smear artist reveals himself by his disparate treatment of people and situations. He drapes himself in a superhero cape, claiming to defend the aggrieved. He pretends to right societal wrongs. In fact, though, he's motivated primarily by paid interests and his own selfish agendas. By definition, the job requires that morality and conscience be cast aside” 2 likes
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