I recently wrote about one key reason I keep reading on politics: I do not wish to be susceptible to propaganda. As such, I laughed when I heard about Hillary Clinton’s What Happened. “Actually paying to be propagandized? No, thanks!”
From my perspective, that’s the sole purpose of this book: not to lay out anything new, but to (1) gain financial benefit while (2) setting out the Official Democrat Version of Facts. This might sound extreme to someone who reads lots of mainstream media and skips the fuller explorations afforded by (non-self-aggrandizing) books. For me, now, it seems funny that I ever didn’t understand how deeply propagandized Americans are.
(It’s been this way for decades to a century. Search for “Edward Bernays” if you’d like to understand how that really crystalized, and then search for “concentration of media ownership” to understand how it’s been worked the last several decades.)
Out of curiosity, I decided to check reviews of What Happened yesterday. Folks wrote some hilarious reviews of Clinton and Kaine’s book last year, and I thought I might find more of the same now. Instead, I found a 23% rating on Google, a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads and … a 5-star rating on Amazon?!
It was pretty quickly clear how Amazon’s 5-star rating was achieved. You don’t have to look far at all; the first eight reviews revealed without clicking Amazon’s read-more variant are one- and two-star ratings. The very first review is titled “Review Deleted–Again.” Of the top eight, another couple reviewers had their original review(s) deleted.
Sorting through the one-star ratings, I found dozens of people whose non-glowing reviews had been deleted. One called Amazon and found his review had been deleted because it was “spiteful.” Some reviewers had their reviews deleted multiple times.
This is a key part of how America is now propagandized: by the quiet censorship of too-powerful tech companies and the rule of their algorithms.
Much as I abhor Amazon and its outsized power to shape and reshape America’s political landscape (see also: Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post), I’ve occasionally purchased difficult-to-find items there. That’s done effective now.
So, yeah. No What Happened for me, thanks. As for what I’ll be reading instead? Why, last week’s World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, which I’ll be buying from anyone but the book’s “four titanic corporations” of doom.