Everything You Think You Know About Politics . . . and Why You're Wrong Summary

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Everything You Think You Know About Politics . . . and Why You’re Wrong

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is critical of many of the ways that the media cover political campaigns, particularly their insistent attention to strategy, style, and personality rather than detail and substance. But she and her research team offer interesting and often surprising data to counter knee-jerk cynicism about the contemporary state of politics and political coverage, and her close study of the actual performance and effects of media in late-twentieth century campaigns pictures a mechanism that is flawed but self-correcting and very capable of conveying vital information to the electorate.

Everything You Think You Know About Politics . . . And Why You’re Wrong is divided into twenty- seven chapters, most of which pose a controversial question that she feels conventional wisdom answers incorrectly: for example, “Do Campaigns Matter?” and “Is the Press Biased?” Though her case studies are highly particularized and focused, the book revolves around several general themes. For example, she repeatedly illustrates that media reports are not, as is often claimed, typically contentless or filled with misinformation, and that even the much-maligned soundbite is frequently a usefully compressed bit of information rather than a sure sign of increasing superficiality and decreasing attention-span. She also qualifies common perceptions about the power of media to manipulate or the inability of the media to persuade and alter behavior,...

(The entire section is 404 words.)