A contextual twittering on Edith Efron’s role in the rise of the American right. I have been reading her 1985 book, The Apocalyptics, which challenged what she saw as fear-mongering in the media over chemical pollution. The book is fascinating. Flawed, but it offers a riveting look at the anti-environmental mindset in the heart of the Reagan 1980s. Here’s a brief Twitter suite examining her background.
In her bestselling 1971 book, The News Twisters, Edith Efron condemned what she saw as a liberal crusade against Richard Nixon during the 1968 presidential campaign. During the final weeks of the campaign, she argued, television media hewed an “elitist-liberal-left line in all controversies.” It constituted a part of the “Democratic-liberal-left axis” bias in the media. According to David Brock’s book on the right-wing noise machine & Adam Schiffer’s on media bias, Nixon orchestrated its becoming a bestseller: organizing purchases at select bookstores, & buying crates of the book with campaign funds. That’s neither here nor there, really (just interesting in itself, especially as a method of generating spin). More interesting is the language of Efron’s rhetoric on the state of media & politics in the US in the early 1970s. Efron challenged the “fake neutrality” of the media in her book. No “fake news,” which would have been a glorious find. But the tone and intent is there. CBS and other media outlets challenged the book. Their studies found much of her research, claims, & rationale to be unfounded. She wrote about this witch hunt in another book: How CBS Tried to Kill a Book (1972). Part of her larger (and successful) project was to increase the conservative presence on television—and to push it ever-further to the right, away from the traditional, centrist conservatives who “represented” the right. In this, she was trying to ensure that the media better reflected & reinforced the shift in the American right that nominated Goldwater in 1964 & the growing movement that remains prevalent today.