Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World is Andrew Breitbart’s rallying cry to conservatives to fight against the institutional left and the liberally-biased mainstream media. It provides entertaining anecdotal accounts of hypocrisy among liberal institutions (e.g., ACORN) and the media. It also provides detailed tactics that the right can use effectively against the left. While entertaining, Righteous Indignation is more Bill O’Reilly than William F. Buckley, Jr., though higher brow than Michael Moore and less angry than Ann Coulter.
Style – 7.50
Andrew Breitbart writes in a straightforward, easily accessible manner. He chooses his examples well, and provides some very colorful anecdotes about the hypocrisy of the institutional left. Particularly interesting is his detailed account of how he leaked James O’Keefe’s ACORN videos one by one, so that the organization would unwittingly hang itself.
One of the book’s flaws is its underlying conspiratorial tone. There is no doubt that the left has plenty of hypocrites. However, the book sometimes comes off as the right’s version of Hillary Clinton’s “vast right-wing conspiracy.” The book also appears to be a bit too colloquial for my taste. For instance, one chapter is called, “Hey, Old Media: It’s Not Your Business Model That Sucks, It’s You That Suck.” While I may agree with this sentiment, I would not have made my point quite so crassly.
I rate the book’s entertaining, but colloquial style a 7.5 out of ten.
Structure – 8.00
For the most part, the author organizes the book chronologically. The book’s numerous anecdotes are relatively straightforward and easy to follow. The book’s organization is logical, but the chapter titles do not adequately describe the content of each chapter at a glance. Overall, the book receives a rating of 8.0 out of ten for structure.
Substance – 6.00
Righteous Indignation is an irreverent account of Andrew Breitbart’s exposure of the left-leaning media’s hypocrisy primarily through the release of the James O’Keefe’s ACORN tapes.
The book also contains an account of Breitbart’s early, hedonistic years at Tulane and his ultimate “conversion” to conservatism.
It also provides a historical analysis of what Breitbart considers to be the American left’s intellectual origins, beginning with the Frankfurt School in the early twentieth century.
Lastly, and most importantly, it includes a rallying cry to conservatives, who are angered by the left’s apparent usurpation of the mainstream media.
Sentiment – 10.00
This book will likely really resonate with most conservatives. Breitbart’s yarn about how he and James O’Keefe took down ACORN is inspiring. His passion for limited government and exposing left-wing media bias shines throughout the book. I rate the book’s sentiment a 10.00 out of ten.
Significance – 6.00
Breitbart’s book will likely be a commercial success because it is colorful, interesting, and entertaining. That said, I do not think it will cause any empires to rise or fall. Therefore, it only rates 6.00 out of ten in terms of significance.
Overall Rating – 6.75
The book’s overall rating is 6.75 out of ten, after assigning the appropriate weights to each item. If you are conservative, want a quick read, and want to get fired up, Righteous Indignation fits the bill. If you are liberal and need an excuse to go nuclear, you should also read this book.
…or, you could ignore Breitbart entirely because he’s a twit.
And he’s a twit because….?
Hmmm, I’m actually philosophically aligned with the Frankfurt school, especially Erich Fromm and Theodor Adorno. So I might want to check out his attack on them. To be sure, Fromm was too willing to see an interventionist government trying to shape the economy, but I see those political economy suggestions as being more from ignorance. In the late forties capitalism had seemed to produce depression, and socialism still had a kind of romantic promise (and the Frankfurt school was anti-Communist, to be sure). The goal of the Frankfurt school was to “save” the enlightenment and understand how it could have lead to the horrors of fascism. I find their arguments appealing, though I’ve never thought they had much influence on American political thought (Juergen Habermas, a third generation Frankfurt school type, still has considerable influence in Germany). So I may have to look at the book if only to see what he has against the Frankfurt school.
I would love to hear your comments after you check out his section on the Frankfurt school.
Since I have had limited to zero exposure on that philosophy, I had no idea how to evaluate Breitbart’s arguments about the more “nefarious” aspects of the movement.
Of course, I could read their work directly as did Breitbart, but somehow I think I would learn more from someone who might have a difference of opinion with Breitbart on this section.
I’ll check it out. I can certainly see how a lot of their economic arguments in the forties — the typical calls on the left for government to reshape the economy — can be criticized. The history of the post-war left has been a move from an embrace of that position to recognition that markets work better than government bureaucracy. Now the difference between left and right is more a matter of degree (how much taxation, regulation and social protections) than true ideological difference. But from what you wrote I suspect his disagreement is more than that, so I’ll try to check it out and get back to you on that (it may be next month though — the semester is ending here and then I’m off with 42 students to Italy for a couple weeks!)
What’s the liberal media’s hypocrisy on the ACORN issue? I seem to remember everyone jumping on ACORN, trying to push the scandal as much as possible, and then no one really talking about the fact that the tapes were edited to the point that they were, at best, misleading.
According to Breitbart, no one would run the story at the beginning. I believe only Fox News was willing to do so — I know, shocker.
My belief is that US media is bipolar and entirely biased. Fox News and the WSJ represent the right pole, while everyone else represents the left.
I trust non-US news sources most for US news because they tend not to get mired in US domestic politics. Hence The Economist is my personal favorite.
Well, the story ended up being a hack job by some muckrakers, including Breitbart, so I’d say Hooray! for the rest of the media for not taking the absurd video and allegations at face value. (Also, I’d love to see a timeline, because I don’t trust Breitbart).
There’s just no network that is actually “left”. MSNBC is pretty close, with it’s opinion commentary clearly skewed to the left, but their news coverage isn’t left-leaning, and they don’t have their opinion commentators on the news shows. Not to mention that MSNBC has the awful Morning Joe, who is clearly conservative. There’s no such thing on Fox (H&C was as close as they ever came, and Colmes was a punchline).
I think US media is really bad, but I think it’s because they’re lazy. They just want to repeat press releases, talk about fake controversies, and poll their audience about every damn thing. Fox skews right, MSNBC skews left, and everyone else skews moronic. Sadly, the right is far more effective at manipulating stupid media than the left.
Here’s what I want to know: if the media is so liberal, why do we ever hear about Sarah Palin? Why did we hear the birther BS for so long? Why are people discussing Donald Trump’s every move? Why was “death panels” ever uttered on television?
Agreed on the non-US sources though. Thankfully we get Al-Jazeera here in DC, which is remarkably good usually (though, like everybody, they’ve got their highs and lows).
I think the answer to your questions is obvious. By constantly showing these wackos, the media intentionally or unintentionally paints everyone on the right as deranged, low IQ lunatics. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of loons. After all, they receive the lion’s share of media coverage.
Yes, the Economist is the one print news source I still subscribe to and read weekly. They have a definite perspective, but they don’t report the facts only through the prism of their perspective, and try to be fair and accurate. I also think its good to get a variety of perspective; to follow what’s going on in Syria and Libya nobody beats aljazeera, for instance.