The news is a consumer product.
That’s the one thing that Matt Taibbi wants us to learn from this book. He lays out in great detail why the media has become such a monster: conflict is good for ratings, so it’s in the interests of TV shows, websites and newspapers to emphasise conflict, and manufacture it if necessary.
There is a vast spectrum of political opinions and viewpoints out there. But the media’s business is best served by pretending there are only two: Us and Them. They manufacture this simplistic conflict, then they pick a side and pander to it. The result is that their target audience loves them and watches, reads and clicks. But they never see anything more than a caricature of any opposing views.
There is maybe a bit too much detailed information on the US media in the book. He discusses several media personalities who hardly anybody outside the USA has heard of. It’s all fairly interesting but for a non-American reader it feels like a side topic.
The whole thing is slightly depressing, but it probably helps explain the seemingly unhinged nature of American politics these days.