My Takeaways From The Smear By Sharyl Attkisson

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 08:17 PM with 0 comments

photo of The Smear signed title page

If I were to sum up the last US Presidential election process in one word, it would be “painful.” Why painful? For almost 2 years prior people were subjected to dialogue that wasn’t even worthy of an elementary school playground. I could go on and on and on and on with analogies of what I heard, but one descriptor of it would certainly not be “substance.”

All the while I’ve had a sneaking suspicion this was all intentional. After reading the book The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote by Sharyl Attkisson, I was unfortunately reassured of my assumptions.

The Smear was published this summer, and is a very timely journal of the 2016 US national elections, including analysis on headlines discussed, as well as a history lesson as to the people and sources – from money to information – behind the candidates. Attkisson is a veteran investigative journalist, formerly with CBS News and now host of Sinclair’s Full Measure weekly news program. As I have liked her comprehensive reporting, I was compelled to pre-order this book when it was announced.

My takeaways from The Smear went from to micro to macro, and are as follows.

There were events I missed – As I read through The Smear, there were several times I said to myself, “gee, I didn’t know that.” Especially for someone like me who, despite being a long-time cord-cutter but someone who prides himself on keeping close eyes and ears to the news, there were a few events and some nuances I missed. With all that was flung and slung by so many, I wasn’t completely surprised.

Follow the money – To say that money is influential in politics is like saying sunlight is influential in growing plants. Typically we all have seen the end results of political spending, namely in advertising of various formats, but with “fake news” Web sites coming and going, we don’t all know who is behind them or paying for them. With the plethora of political consulting firms, political action committees (PACs) and SuperPACs and their influence, it’s hard to follow. In The Smear, Attkisson does a good job in connecting the dots along the money trails.

Will it ever get better? – I believe in journalism. With this last election, about all I saw was biased opinion and very little hard news. There are journalists I know and follow and trust. It’s not an exhaustive list, but a vital one to me. Overall I follow a broad spectrum of information sources, think for myself and come up with my take.

As someone who enjoys reading about politics, I enjoyed and recommend The Smear. It’s presented in a methodical and relatively chronological order, and I found it a good read. If you’re not into this type of book, or you believe everything you hear and see on (insert your favorite news network here) then this book probably isn’t for you.

As I do with every book I read, I give it away, and this one I am sending to my favorite Father-In-Law. Where I may have an idea of what his politics are, I am still eager to hear his take on this book.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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