Reviews for Battling The Big Lie

by Dan Pfeiffer

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Pod Save America cohost and the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling Yes We (Still) Can, Pfeiffer shows how the Republican Party has built a powerful disinformation machine, helmed by Fox News and facilitated by Facebook. He also offers guidance on recognizing fake news, becoming a good fact checker, and discussing issues with disinformed friends and relatives. With a 75,000-copy first printing.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Pod Save America cohost and the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling Yes We (Still) Can, Pfeiffer shows how the Republican Party has built a powerful disinformation machine, helmed by Fox News and facilitated by Facebook. He also offers guidance on recognizing fake news, becoming a good fact checker, and discussing issues with disinformed friends and relatives. With a 75,000-copy first printing.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Former Obama White House communications director and cohost of the popular Pod Save America, Pfeiffer probably won’t change a single Republican mind. And Democrats know too well the case Pfeiffer makes that disinformation spread by the likes of Fox News and Facebook has had a corrosive effect on democracy. However, the author does detail, with bracing clarity, just how effective right-wing messaging has been compared to that of the left—see the Big Lie—and he offers advice for mainstream media in advance of upcoming elections: publicly out anonymous sources who lie, refuse to invite known liars onto prestigious media platforms for interviews, refuse to provide live coverage of political speeches used to spread disinformation. And for private citizens: allocate your attention strategically, share screenshots and not posts (to avoid feeding trolls), and don’t spread disinformation yourself. Good advice for any side in a functioning democracy.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The co-host of Pod Save America examines the sweeping disinformation practices of Republicans and their media allies. “If Democrats and the media do not fight back against the right-wing media machine bent on division and destruction, democracy has no chance of surviving,” writes Pfeiffer, who served as a senior adviser to Barack Obama during his second term. Hard words, but hardly alarmist given the evidence the author assembles. Though many believe this disinformation machine is a recent development, Pfeiffer recounts a smear campaign from 2004 mounted against South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, in which the GOP falsely claimed that Daschle had promised to return the Black Hills to the Sioux Nation if Sioux leaders delivered the votes necessary for him to win the election. Daschle narrowly lost, forcing Pfeiffer to rethink the conventional rules—e.g., don’t feed the beast by dignifying lies with a response. The author argues convincingly that the biggest beast is Fox and Friends, which “has all the accoutrements of a typical news program while being a right-wing clown show.” Fox News, he writes, is a wholly partisan wing of the Republican Party. “And here’s the most disturbing thing: there is a market for ‘crazier than Fox.’ These networks were able to siphon off some of Fox’s audience, and now they are in a race to the bottom,” writes the author. Pfeiffer is a master of cutting derogation: “Arkansas senator Tom Cotton makes Jared Kushner look like a magnetic personality”; “[Jerome] Corsi is a well-known nutcase and a shitty writer, but when your campaign is trying to elect a Black man with the middle name ‘Hussein,’ no threat can be ignored.” He proposes a recalibrated journalism to counter the Republican machine, with plank points such as “Build Immunity to the Big Lie” and “Build Trust,” but whose overarching, sensible argument is to abandon the pretense of balance in favor of “a progressive propaganda operation that can go toe-to-toe with the Right.” A new playbook for Democratic messaging with a bite and a sting. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Pod Save America cohost Pfeiffer (Un-Trumping America) takes a punchy look at “how disinformation and propaganda became the dominant Republican political strategy, how it works, what it means, and how Democrats can fight back.” Focusing on recent history, Pfeiffer discusses Russia’s disinformation campaign to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election; Trump’s allegations of “fake news” against CNN, the New York Times, and other mainstream outlets; Republicans’ embrace of climate change denialism and the conspiracy theory that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.; the decline of local news; and Trump’s efforts to downplay the dangers of Covid-19 by attacking the credibility of Anthony Fauci and other public health experts. Pfeiffer also documents how a group founded by a “Trump-supporting dirty trickster” targeted Black voters with false claims that people who voted by mail in the 2020 election “would have their information shared with law enforcement and collection agencies seeking warrants and unpaid debts.” To combat Republican propaganda, Pfeiffer encourages progressives to promote positive ideas and organizations on social media, rather than launching into counterattacks that only serve to spread disinformation. Though Pfeiffer’s sarcasm and mocking tone can grate, he makes lucid and persuasive arguments. Progressives will relish this fiery call to arms. (June)

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