A provocative critique of how manipulation of media gives rise to disinformation, intolerance, and divisiveness, and what can be done to change direction.
"I've never seen anything like this," said the CEO of CBS in 2016, "this [is] going to be a very good year for us. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going . . . It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."––The Washington Post
In United States of Distraction, media scholars Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff offer a well-researched analysis of the essential roles media and journalism should play in a democracy, how years of corporate influence have eroded these roles, and how Trump's media tactics have exploited social vulnerabilities created as a result. The authors focus on how public susceptibility to celebrity entertainment, ultra-partisanship, and social media have been manipulated for political ends, ushering in what many refer to as the "post-truth" era. Higdon and Huff conclude on a note of hope by offering concrete solutions for reforms in media, journalism and education—essential prerequisites for creating a more independent, democratic, and reason-based culture. An impassioned, timely call to action.
Praise for United States of Distraction:
"A war of distraction is underway, media is the weapon, and our minds are the battlefield. Higdon and Huff have written a brilliant book of how we've gotten to this point, and how to educate ourselves to fight back and win."––Henry A. Giroux, author of American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism
"A timely and urgent demand re-asserting the central importance of civic pursuits—not commercialism—in U.S. media and society."—Ralph Nader
"Higdon and Huff have produced the best short introduction to the nature of Trump-era journalism and how the 'Post-Truth' media world is inimical to a democratic society that I have seen. The book is provocative and an entertaining read. Best of all, the analysis in United States of Distraction leads to concrete and do-able recommendations for how we can rectify this deplorable situation."—Robert W. McChesney, author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times and Gutgsell Endowed Professor, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff provides us with a fearless and dangerous text that refuses the post-truth proliferation of fake news, disinformation, and media that serve the interests of the few. This is a vital wake-up call for how the public can protect itself against manipulation and authoritarianism through education and public interest media."—George Yancy, author of Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Racism in America and Professor of Philosophy at Emory University
"United States of Distraction challenges our hegemon-media's ideological mind control and the occupation of human thought. . . . Huff and Higdon correctly call for mass critical resistance through truth telling by free minds. Power to the people!"––Peter Phillips, author of Giants: The Global Power Elite
"A thorough autopsy of our dying democracy in the Trump era. They chronicle the culmination of a long history of manufactured consent where American citizens have accepted a 'trickle down' taste of market benefits in exchange for the relentless privatization of news and information necessary for the healthy functioning of a free society."––Nicholas L. Baham III, professor of African American Studies, Genders and Sexualities in Communities of Color, California State University East Bay
"Those who are concerned with the current state of democracy and want insight on how to make change are highly encouraged to read this book, which, while it shares disturbing information, is not despondent. Higdon and Huff believe that the people, armed with accurate information, can make change."––Allison Butler, Director of Media Literacy Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Co-President of the Action Coalition for Media Education
"Here is a book that cuts through the clutter of media nonsense to tell us some powerful truths. How they do it in a way that makes us angry while also inspired, is what makes the book so vibrant, and vital."—Robin Andersen, editor of The Routledge Companion to Media and Humanitarian Action and Professor of Media Studies at Fordham University
"United States of Distractionis a challenging, inspiring, and indispensable guide to this fateful era of fake news and 'alternative' facts. From the normalization of official lying and disinformation under the Trump administration to the deep historical roots of the corporate ethos that legitimizes restless pursuit of private enrichment at the expense of public goods, Higdon and Huff lucidly analyze the conditions and consequences of our current political crisis. Fortunately, they make equally clear how two fundamental democratic institutions––public education and a truly free press––may still save us, by rejuvenating our civics education, our communities, and our power as citizens."––Andy Lee Roth, associate director of Project Censored, co-editor of Censored 2020: Through the Looking Glass
"United States of Distraction is a huge wake-up call to anyone concerned that President Trump repeatedly calls coverage he disagrees with 'fake news.' The problem isn't fake news: the problem is that the teaching of both critical thinking and media literacy have been neglected far too long in American schools. . . . If you're not outraged after reading United States of Distraction, you're not paying attention."––Frank W. Baker, author, consultant, Media Literacy Clearinghouse