April 4, 2011
Book Review (AND GIVEAWAY): Righteous Indignation
"Make no mistake: America is in a media war."
~ Righteous Indignation
If you ever watch the news, listen to the radio or check the headlines on msn.com, you must read this book.
I've been telling y'all this for weeks, months now. There is a battle going on for the information gateway of our country: the news media complex.
And the great general leading the charge, the brilliant strategist who has been literally on the forefront of this fight and has seen it from the inside-out and the ground-up, who makes it possible for you and I to literally hear "the rest of the story".... is Andrew Breitbart. And his latest book, "Righteous Indignation," was released last Thursday.
I've mentioned Breitbart on here before, mostly in passing or in reference to his Big sites (linked on the right). Anything we know today, about the JournoList, about ACORN, about Pigford is directly because of Andrew Breitbart. (And if you don't know about any of the things I just mentioned, start researching, because this affects YOU)
And, on a personal note, I had the great pleasure of meeting Breitbart a couple of years ago, when I went to LA with Sister. Granted, I just shook his hand and then stood in the group listening to him talk, but you've never met a more approachable, friendly guy who's excited and passionate about what he's doing. Any media portrayal of him as this frothing bitter-clinger makes me laugh and roll my eyes.
"Righteous Indignation" is part memoir, part treatise, part history lesson. It begins with the infamous ACORN sting investigation, in which James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles went to multiple ACORN offices around the country and asked ACORN to help them find tax breaks for their brothel, in which they claimed to employ underage illegal immigrants. Yes, they explicitly stated that was their business - underage human trafficking.
And Breitbart dropped the videos, one by one. Aside from the moral repugnance of the actions of the ACORN offices, the bigger story was that ACORN was doing this using taxpayer dollars. Within weeks, Congress unanimously voted to defund one of the largest community activists groups in the country.
All because of some bloggers and a couple of kids with a camera.
The next part of the book details how Breitbart became the biggest New Media magnate of our day, the driving force behind the biggest news stories in the last 5 years. Breitbart grew up in Brentwood, LA's upscale suburb, to middle-class, hardworking conservative parents. He then went to a liberal party school for college and wound up tens of thousands of dollars in debt with a degree in American Studies. (Which, by the way, makes me feel a lot better about that Creative Studies degree I got.) He found himself challenging both the values he grew up with and the values he acquired while in college - at polar ends of the spectrum - and having to decide which were really right.
The internet changed everything. His account of the rise of electronic communication in the 90s almost made me wish I had been born ten years earlier so I could have experienced it first-hand. I say "almost," because that would, obviously, have made my relationship with SoldierMan impossible.
The power of the internet was made clear in the 90s. It was the internet - specifically, the Drudge Report - that broke the biggest stories of the decade. Essentially, it was Matt Drudge that exposed not only Bill Clinton's criminal and immoral activities (yes, criminal activities, his impeachment was not about sex, it was about him committing multiple felonies.), Drudge also showed how much the mainstream media was ignoring, covering up and lying about. This is gone over in detail in the book so I won't recount it here.
Breitbart also tells about his key involvement in creating what is now the antithesis to his Big sites - The Huffington Post. Yes, The Huffington Post likely would not exist without Andrew Breitbart, and he is proud of it. He and Arianna Huffington, though on opposites side politically, are still friends. Why would he create a venue for people he absolutely disagrees with to be able to express their beliefs - often times hatefully about him? Because, above all, he's a believer in the importance of letting all sides into the conversation, and that when people are able to see all points of view, only then are they able to really decide what is true and what isn't.
In the midst of all these personal anecdotes, he drops a very heady chapter on philosophical history for the last 200 years. Wait, what? My brain was not ready for the shift, and at first it was a little jarring. But the history is important, and he is able to expertly articulate, in a very non-stodgy way, the connection between today's media and political personalities and Rousseau, the Frankfurt School, and Saul Alinsky. (Never heard of those people? You will.)
The latter part of the book is the treatise, the call to action, the good ol' fashioned Rebel Yell (if he'll pardon the expression) calling you and I to stop being merely observers of the world and be engagers. The communications landscape of our country is changing, not because of what goes in in some elitist J-school or because Jon Stewart shoots his mouth off and hides behind his clown nose, but because people like you and me, bloggers, milwives, everyday ordinary people, are doing to it.
As Breitbart puts it, it's time to walk toward the fire. (That's my new motto.) It's time to stop being passive and settling for what the official story is from the government, the media, and yes - even Army Times. It's time to start engaging our friends and neighbors in conversation and education, to spread the truth and encourage others to seek out information for themselves, rather than being spoon-fed. It's time to start asking questions, holding these people accountable for spreading misinformation, for stoking fear and division. It's time to take up the mantle of responsible citizenship and start holding the 4th Establishment's feet to the fire. We're not gonna take it anymore.
In that vein, I'm offering to give away a copy of this book to my readers. (No, not my copy. Trust me, this is now a treasured addition to my library. And SoldierMan is reading it, and he comes first.) I wish I could afford to buy each and every one of my 300+ followers a copy. If I could, I would. That's how important this book is. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower and comment on this post. If you pass along the word through blogging, facebook or twitter, let me know and that'll give you an extra entry, too. I'll keep entries open for a week, so the winner will be announced next Monday, the 11th. **UPDATE: Giveaway is now officially over. Thanks to everyone who entered!
Breitbart isn't a saint. The book is not rated 'G.' I told SoldierMan, I'd offer to read it aloud to him at night, but there are words in it I can't say. So, just so I can say I told you so, there ya go.
Also, let me just say, if Andrew Breitbart has an inkling of this review post, I'd be shocked. The man works something like 20 hours a day, so I don't for a second think he's got time to read anything I write. Which is to say, neither the copy I read nor the copy I'm giving away was provided to me. I bought both at my own expense. That's how much I want you to read this book.
Andrew Breitbart is to me what Rupert Murdoch was to my parents. The game-changer in the media conversation, the one person willing to go out and create an avenue for news from an alternate perspective, not just the canned official line of the establishment. The difference is, Breitbart isn't a multimillionaire doing this out of academic interest. This is his life. This is his country. This is our country. And it's time we stepped up and protected it.
Walk toward the fire.