The Greatest Story Ever Sold Reviews
Starred Review. This blistering j'accuse has vitriol to spare for George
Bush—calling him a "spoiled brat" and "blowhard"—and his policies, but its main
target is the PR machinery that promoted those policies to the American people.
New York Times columnist Rich revisits nearly every Bush administration
publicity gambit, including Iraqi WMD claims, Bush's "Mission Accomplished"
triumph, the Swift-boating of John Kerry and the writing of fake prowar
letters-to-the-editor from soldiers. He uncovers nothing new, but his
meticulously researched recap-cum-debunking—complete with appended 80-page time
line comparing administration spin to actual events—builds a comprehensive
picture of a White House propaganda campaign to bamboozle the public, smear
critics, camouflage policy disasters and win the 2002 and 2004 elections through
trumped-up security anxieties. Along the way, he pillories a sycophantic media
(Bob Woodward gets spanked hard), spineless Democrats and an infotainment
culture that happily accommodates the Bush administration's erasure of the line
between reality and fiction. Sometimes Rich's critique of Republican politics as
cynical image-manipulation goes overboard, as in his "wag the dog" theory of the
Iraq war as a Karl Rove electoral maneuver; more often, though, it's on target.
The result is a caustic, hard-hitting indictment of the Bush administration,
timed to make a splash in the upcoming election campaign. (Sept. 19)
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". . . a scathing rebuke of the current administration's definition of truth . . ."
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