“Dollarocracy” authors Robert McChesney and John Nichols explain why more campaign spending makes the public less informed

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Media critic Robert McChesney and political journalist John Nichols recently published “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.” The book makes the case for how increases in campaign spending threaten American democracy. As campaign spending continues to grow, the authors write, citizens are more susceptible to distorted political messages and, as a result, make less informed decisions.

On Wednesday, McChesney will also discuss his other book, “Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy,” published this year as well. In “Digital Disconnect,” McChesney explores the monopolization of the Internet by major companies. He argues the Internet is hurting American democracy by becoming a tool for government and corporate surveillance.

McChesney is the Gutsgell Endowed Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. On Sunday afternoons, he hosts a weekly radio program titled Media Matters, featured on WILL-AM, NPR’s affiliate in Urbana, Illinois. McChesney received his Ph.D. in communications from the University of Washington in 1989. He taught for 10 years at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before becoming a professor at the University of Illinois. McChesney’s research focuses on the history and political economy of communication, with an emphasis on the role of media in democratic and capitalist societies. He is the author or editor of 13 books.



Nichols is the Washington correspondent for The Nation and associate editor for the Capital Times, a daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, including The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He often appears on radio and television programs as a political commentator. Nichols is the author of “The Genius Impeachment,” “Jews for Buchanan,” and “Dick: The Man Who is President,” and editor of “Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire.”

Nichols has also been featured in numerous documentaries, including “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism” and “Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election.”

In 2003, McChesney and Nichols, along with Josh Silver, the founding CEO of United Republic, founded Free Press — a national nonpartisan organization designed to increase informed public participation in media and technology policy debates.

McChesney and Nichols have co-authored numerous books, including “Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections and Destroy Democracy” and “The Death and Life of American Journalism.”

Here are links to relevant readings:





Text by Marianne LeVine and Faine Greenwood