- As the driving forces behind the Project Censored institution and annual yearbook, Higdon and Huff are well-positioned as critics, advocates, and reformers of media, journalism, and politics. Their perspective on how media influences society is authoritative and well-established. Given the mounting crises posed by the Trump presidency, their critique of media's role in giving rise to division, intolerance, and far-right tendencies is timely and urgent, and the market for their perspective-those who are aghast with the Trumps-is vast. This book will draw from and build on Project Censored's well-established national readership.
- This is a must-read book to understand the playbook for an imperial presidency, one exploiting several historically rooted vulnerabilities in American society, especially around education and the media, and prevent it from happening again. We can still reverse our current trajectory toward a more fascistic culture and become one that is more equitable and representative. This book shows us how we can do just that.
- Mickey Huff's previous work with Project Censored had warned that a Trump-like figure would emerge unless we ameliorated our societal vulnerabilities, especially in the public sphere (education, free press). This book properly situates Trump as a symptom, not the central cause, of the crises of contemporary US political culture, one almost half a century in the making along with the rise of neoliberalism.
- Assesses the role media and entertainment played in Trump's rise to political power.
- Offers suggestions for taking action regarding changing media and education to counter influences of corporate power and alt right.
- Meant to provide historical context and political and analytical depth presented for a general reading audience, especially for use in lower division college courses, or AP high school as well.
- Project Censored is a well-established progressive institution with a diverse array of publicity and marketing resources at its disposal including social media, email lists, web sites, blog, and radio programming. These will all be on tap to augment outreach, marketing, and publicity for this book.
-The Project Censored radio show on Pacifica Radio is nationally syndicated on 40 stations from Hawaii to New York. Project Censored has 12,000 Twitter followers and 60,000 Facebook followers. Project Censored promotional email list reaches 20,000 subscribers. Academic outreach list of 4,000 sociology and media studies professors. 20 campuses connected via Project Censored affiliate programs. Direct mailing to 20,000 addresses (snail mail). Authors give talks all the time, especially through KPFA in Berkeley.
- List of campuses that have worked with Project Censored, whose research has been vetted and posted online and/or published in their annual books as part of their Validated Independent News Stories curriculum, overseen by their associate director, Dr. Andy Lee Roth: Univeristy of Vermont, Champlain College, UMass-Amherst, Worcester State, SUNY Buffalo, UC Riverside, Pomona College, Citrus College, College of Marin, North Central College, St. Lawrence University, Fordham, Diablo Valley College, Napa Valley College, Chabot College, Indian River State College, Los Positas College, University of San Francisco, San Francisco State, California State University Easty Bay, Sonoma State, Syracuse, University of Regina, and College of Western Idaho.
- Authors plan to tour, including bookstore signings and university talks, panels, and conferences
- They will give interviews local and nationally, including Democracy Now!
"[Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff] paint a dismal picture of contemporary journalism, arguing persuasively that the media has been co-opted by commercial interests and no longer serve to inform the public about issues crucial to democracy. . . . the authors call for 'critical media literacy education' that emphasizes civics, critical thinking skills, critical awareness of media, community engagement, and cultural competency (including the cultivation of empathy) as well as a broadening and deepening of news reporting."-Kirkus Reviews
"Mickey Huff and Nolan Higdon and have long understood that the truth is a powerful weapon for making power accountable. They also understand that authoritarians, corporate CEOs, and other anti-democratic forces often view truth as unprofitable or dangerous. In their superb book, United States of Distraction, they echo Hannah Arendt's warning that during authoritarian times, critical thinking, truth-telling, and investigative journalism can be a high-risk activities. Higdon and Huff not only look at how corporate influence has comprised media and undermined democracy, but also how such influence has rendered society vulnerable to manipulation through disinformation, propaganda, and hyper-partisan divisiveness. 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
"This vibrant and important book shows how propaganda and lies are flowing through corporate-controlled media, dividing and ruling. Mickey Huff and Nolan Higdon emphasize what we can do today to restore the power of facts, truth, and fair, inclusive journalism as tools for people to keep political and corporate power subordinate to the engaged citizenry and the common good. A timely and urgent demand re-asserting the central importance of civic pursuits-not commercialism-in U.S. media and society."-Ralph Nader
"United States of Distraction by Mickey Huff and Nolan Higdon challenges our hegemon-media's ideological mind control and the occupation of human thought. Their message is clear that we are in an era of deliberate propaganda and lies that protect concentrated global capital. Corporate media incites confusion and distraction to insure ideological domination by the global power elite. 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
"Historians Mickey Huff and Nolan Higdon bring context to our current Trumpian post-truth moment. They retrace the largely untold history of the roots of neoliberalism and show the devastating effects of a half century of privatization, deregulation, and the all-out war on the New Deal and Great Society. They not only deconstruct and explain how we got to this moment in history, they prescribe ways we can wrestcontrol from a plutocracy that has co-opted the best elements of American idealism, cynically turning them on their head for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. This book is a call to action at a moment when not heeding history's warnings, and not dramatically changing course, threatens not only the future of our republic but of global civilization itself."-Peter Kuznick, professor of history at American University, author (with Oliver Stone) of The Untold History of the United States
"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. Huff and Higdon open our eyes to an Orwellian landscape where once commercial free, publicly owned discourses on equality, community, and justice have been substituted by propaganda and where the responsibility of informed citizenship has been replaced by blind allegiance to a supremely inept leader and a his merry band of corrupt plutocrats."-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. With attention to education and critical media literacy, this book will serve as a catalyst for that change and will support those first steps away from the precipice of corporate control."-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
"United States of Distraction brilliantly diagnoses the root causes of our current political and cultural malaise--the economic destruction of our free press, the rampant disregard for truth and accuracy in our political discourse, the corporate capture of our education system, and a public culture polluted by hyper-commerical entertainment. But even more importantly, the book explains how critical media literacy and a renewed emphasis on civics education can remedy the problems plaguing our politics and our culture and help us to revitalize and reclaim our democracy. An important and timely read."-Steve Macek, author of Urban Nightmares: The Media, The Right, and the Moral Panic Over the City