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Inventing Reality: The Politics of News Media

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  431 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Taking a critical perspective on the economics and politics of "presenting" the news, this topical supplement argues that the media systematically distorts news coverage. ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 15th 1992 by Cengage Learning (first published January 1st 1986)
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Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you‘re thinking about reading Chomsky‘s ‚Manufacturing Consent‘, read this instead - it‘s written on the same subject, 2 years earlier, and by someone far more knowledgeable.
Honestly, Parentis writing style ist phenomenal. He argues really concisely, anticipating every counterargument, and exposing the reader to a radical new world view, but he never loses himself in technical jargon. He engages the reader with his wit and humour and I‘ve honestly never read a non-fiction book as quickly as I
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm only half way through this book and already it's one of the most concise and penetrating critiques of the Mass Media in America that I've ever read. As someone who works in the business, Parenti's analysis of distortions, ideology, omissions and power of the Media in our lives is an essential read. Be prepared to cancel your cable... ...more
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent discussion of how the media function as institutions that push the interests of their stakeholders -- their owners, their advertisers, the political and business elites that their employees look up to, and the government, on which they rely for access to much of the information they need to be seen as Serious Outlets. Last in this line comes the public.

Parenti's writing style is a lot livelier than Chomsky's, which makes it a far quicker and more enjoyable read. And note that although
May 25, 2022 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive breakdown of how and why American media organizations submit to the ~general~ aims of the American state (particularly concerning foreign policy), how overt censorship is rarely necessary because journalists have grown accustomed to self-censorship, and how a superwealthy class of media owners have used information as a tool to increase their personal wealth.

Early on I was a bit annoyed by Parenti's much-repeated claim that American media companies are controlled by a deeply cons
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A great book that goes beyond a structural analysis of the news media's faults but gets directly into their political and societal function as both a public information service and "its irreducible responsibility... to continually recreate a view of reality supportive of existing social and economic class power."

It explores how the mass media is an essential part of the ideological structure that socialises the population into an ideological framework to accept things like the two-party system a
George Schmitz
Nov 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. One I would recommend over manufacturing consent every time. Parenti is a profoundly undervalued scholar. His skill at the acerbic political witticism is unmatched.
John Davie
Apr 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The issue with the Australian media isn't media monopolists it's with the system that ensures a capitalist class monopoly on media ownership . Kev please read this book and take note. ...more
Alex podge
Oct 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Don’t trust the lying fake news media kids.
C. Scott
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. No one does a better job using plain language to describe the larger forces at work that alter our perception of reality. Here Parenti turns his focus on the media.

Going far beyond the typical “liberal complaint” mode of media criticism, Parenti drives full force into a radical class analysis. Does it matter that the establishment press, the major media that get all the accolades and respect in our culture, also happen to be capitalist enterprises? You bet your ass. Does it matter tha
Possum Paderau
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Parenti is a fantastic writer. The conclusion of the book was powerful. I just wish there were a 30 year anniversary edition that was updated with developments in the media since then. Things are very similar but have also changed a lot.
May 16, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

In general I agree with Parenti's analysis of the media. Free media doesn't really exist in the West, self-censorship, cultural orthodoxy and mouthing of official positions is prevalent/systemic, there are strong ideological/class interests active in the background which shape media coverage, and news are distorted and over/under/mis-represented depending on the official acceptability of the angle. Completely baseless but very emotive stories are given huge coverage and then dropped silently
Most nonfiction books about a singular topic lose momentum as they go on; this book got stronger & more impactful as we got closer to the end.
Oct 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Michael Parenti continues to be one of my favourite literary discoveries of recent years. Such clear-eyed political analysis, engaging and readable prose, and healthy dashes of humour that are often missing from political works.

This book has so much to say about how muzzled and manipulated the 'free press' in capitalist countries really is; his focus is on the USA but his insights have global relevanc. Even with the rise of social media, his insights hold up today - even moreso as we see increa
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've seen people recommend this in place of Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent, and now I understand why. Parenti's arguments are very easy to follow: Premise, litany of supporting evidence, some contemplation of possible counterarguments, and rebuttal, usually wrapped up in under 5 pages. My only complaint is that Parenti tackles these items so succinctly it can appear jarring. Once you round out the books last pages, however, the sum total of all of the arguments raised is a damning critique of p ...more
P.J. Sullivan
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Exposes media bias, how economic power leads to cultural hegemony and ideological monopoly. Michael Parenti is one of the best antidotes to media misinformation.
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In Inventing Reality, Michael Parenti makes the case that while mass media under capitalism is free of state censorship of the totalitarian variety, that it is nonetheless censored in more subtle but just as profound ways, due to a variety of systemic and economic factors.

It's filled with references to thousands of articles, interviews and testimonies with journalists, other political scientists, media critics, government officials and more. While he draws on and synthesises a bunch of academic
Nov 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Parenti writes as well as he speaks. The only thing that could have made this better is him narrating it. A thorough breakdown of the American media that was written more than 3 decades ago, but is still relevant till this day and not just to America. Even if you don’t agree with his politics (I clearly do), it’s hard to dispute the class analysis and the functions of media in a capitalist state, which is to ultimately protect the interests of the ruling class i.e. the bourgeoisie. Overall, a mu ...more
I'm going to make a Goodreads shelf for "Books Everyone Should Read" and this'll be the first entry. Parenti understands how the world works better 99% of all other living political writers. That's his style is more engaging and humorous is just unfair to his competition.

This book is really good at laying out why it's actually those of us living in the capitalist world who are suffering under the most repressive media apparatus to ever exist. It's easy to imagine how capital's misinformation tec
Aditya Raman
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Parenti succinctly takes apart the Mainstream Media industry of the United States, deftly exposes the power brokers that run it and the ideologies that they propagate using it. However, this work is in dire need of updation to reflect the ever-changing media landscape of the 21st century and how the introduction of social media has added a whole new dimension to class conflict. It also needs a chapter or two on the media landscape outside of the United States and the international migration of r ...more
Christopher Redfern
May 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Parenti is much drier here than usual, but the occasional acerbic wit does come through to pierce the Web of academic rigour which would otherwise weigh the book down, were it not for the topic which we all must contend with. Everyone knows that the media (mainstream) is a bald faced liar, but naming the ways is slippery like the veritable eel. Well in this volume Parenti gives us a net with which to catch the capitalist ideology in, which appears to us as objective facts.
We need this to be read
May 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
Parenti makes many still relevant points about how the media works, even if their direction has partly changed since he wrote this.

He also points out how media "centrists" usually are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, while the things that get people out protesting are socially conservative and fiscally liberal positions. The Republicans can only get people out to protest abortion, and Democrats usually only get people protesting for their economic policies, although that has changed
Jul 28, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
michael parenti holds such a special place in my heart, and i wanted to read a full work of his for quite some time now. i think this book is a great place for people to start if they're interested in media studies and manipulation and want to learn about the ways in which news media is merely an arm of the ruling class in the united states. he goes in-depth with examples, so that you can cite exact moments of media bias without people thinking you're a crazy conspiracy theorist.

4 stars only be
Katherine Jin
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Everyone needs to read this! You’ll probably learn something even if you think you already know about the shortcomings and lack of objectivity in the press. Parenti does a great job of explaining why and how the press does what it does and how it fits into the bigger picture. The book is several decades old but remains just as relevant today.
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Superb critique and deconstruction of American media, explaining how the rich and powerful control the media and use it for their own ends to the detriment of everyone else, especially the most marginalised

The book is well researched and pulls no punches in the author's typical no nonsense style
Apr 22, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: media
Halfway in from a while back, but I don’t really plan to finish at this point now that I’m thinking of it. Bourgeois society has bourgeois press, and you don’t need how ever many pages of scandalous news antics to teach what should already be a given tbh. Something like the Citations Needed podcast is much more engaging, anyways.
Jason Friedlander
Jul 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Concise, ambitious, powerfully and accessibly written, convincingly argued, and depressingly still relevant to this day. I don’t agree with all of his takes, but you can’t deny the directness and strength of his fiery prose and just how much of it still rings true.

Essential reading for those skeptical of the objectivity of modern journalism and the overall news media empire.
Sep 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Dr. Parenti does an excellent job exposing the class interests hidden within “objective” news reports and editorials. He begins by showing how the media is owned and operated by the ruling class and how that fact affects their representation of certain stories. He then goes into detail about the truth of many events that have been misrepresented or outright ignored over time. Much of the end of the book is devoted to explaining methods of misrepresentation. Definitely worth a read ...more
Taylor Lucas
Nov 14, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many powerful lesson in this book and while I liked the content, the way much of it was presented was too academic for me to truly get all of it. The best way to communicate important information is in a way anyone can understand and maybe my brain is just too full of academic stuff at the moment. I’ll try to come back when I’m not in school.
Rochelle Blumenstein
It was amazing how relevant this book is now despite its being 30 year old.
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marx
A case study on how the media narrative is shaped directly and indirectly by capital. Still extremely relevant.
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American political scientist, historian and culture critic.
Parenti is most known for his criticism of capitalism and American foreign policy. He holds a doctorate from Yale University.

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26 likes · 6 comments
“The basic distortions in the media are not innocent errors, for they are not random; rather they move in the same overall direction again and again, favoring management over labor, corporatism over anti-corporatism, the affluent over the poor, private enterprise over socialism, Whites over Blacks, males over females, officialdom over protesters, conventional politics over dissidence, anticommunism and arms-race militarism over disarmament, national chauvinism over internationalism, US dominance of the Third World over revolutionary or populist nationalist change. The press does many things and serves many functions but its major role, its irreducible responsibility, is to continually recreate a view of reality supportive of existing social and economic class power.” 19 likes
“Power is always more secure when cooptive, covert, and manipulative than when nakedly brutish. The support elicited through the control of minds is more durable than the support extracted at the point of a bayonet. The essentially undemocratic nature of the mainstream media, like the other business-dominated institutions of society, must be hidden behind a neutralistic, voluntaristic, pluralistic facade.

"For manipulation to be most effective, evidence of its presence should be nonexistent.... It is essential, therefore, that people who are manipulated believe in the neutrality of their key social institutions," writes Herbert Schiller.”
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