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Into the Buzzsaw

Kristin Borjessan editor

reviewed by Deane Rink,

Deane Rink, writer, producer, and project director, is a voracious reader with very eclectic tastes. He sends us short, provocative reviews, introducing us to fascinating books that otherwise might pass unnoticed. He has worked for PBS, National Geographic, the American Museum of Natural History, Hearst Entertainment, and Carl Sagan. From his involvement in numerous projects about science, he has remarkable insight into present-day scientific endeavors and their implications, and in-depth knowledge of specialized fields (like Antarctica from his two "Live from Antarctica" PBS productions. But he also savors provides illuminating commentary on literature, fantasy, biography, and popular fiction. Links to Deane's other reviews. You can reach him at

America has, arguably, the least inhibited press in the world.  We make heroes of investigative journalists and encourgae anonymous informants and whistle-blowers.  And we tolerate a wide diversity of opinion, even fringe and lunatic opinions, as a necessary cost of doing business in a democracy.

But there is a darker side to our celebrated free press.  This is nowhere better illustrated than in this collection of eighteen essays by leading investigative journalists, each of whom began a significant investigation, only to have their results suppressed or diluted when powerful economic or political interests were threatened.

Gerald Colby recounts how his own publisher derailed his attempts to look into the DuPont family and their overpowering influence in the state of Delaware.  Jane Akre tells how her look into the use of bovine growth hormone to increase milk production cost her her job at a Tampa television station after she was hired with a promise to have a free hand at developing
exposes.  Greg Palast demonstrates how his examination of the controversial 2000 presidential election in Florida was ignored when more trivial irregularities (like hanging and dimpled chads) acted as a smokescreen to cover up systematic intimidation of (mostly) African-American voters.  Maurice Murad peeks into the inner editorial process behind America's longest-running investigative TV magazine, 60 Minutes.  Kristina Borjesson, April Oliver, and David Hendrix bitterly tell how the mainstream press's investigation of the TWA 800 crash into Long Island Sound was managed to deflect closer and more disturbing scrutiny.  Monika Jensen-Stevenson looks at how the press handled the strange tale of Vietnam Prisoner of War (or
deserter?) Bobby Garwood.  Michael Levine and Gary Webb indiocate how the war on drugs as reported by the mainstream media often fails to capture the larger picture.  Others write on the CIA and the press, on what muckraking has become, on the ethics of reporters going undercover to get an otherwise unobtainable story, and on how the role that the founding fathers envisioned for the press has been subverted by conglomeration and corporate ownership.

These are all "inside baseball" stories, perhaps more relevant to working reporters than to the news-consuming public.  But, once read, you will never look at an investigative report the same way again.  And you will always be left wondering: "How much more of the story got dropped for image-saving or other non-legitimate purposes?"

Reviews by Dean Rink

Dialogue on favorite books with Deane Rink before and during his latest trek to Antarctica, with a note from Bill Ransom and a digression about Frank Herbert (a.k.a Bookbabble 101) -- a very long and rapidly growing document:

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