Western democracies ignored the threat of Adolf Hitler and appeased him in the 1930s for many reasons. In this timely book, Olmsted focuses on the role played by the six most powerful media moguls in the UK and the US, whose combined newspapers reached the majority of readers in their countries every day. All rejected the fascist threat and called for appeasement, and some shamelessly embraced fascism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Moreover, they spread a polemical, sensationalist, and personalistic style of writing that often crossed the line into outright lying – a power they reveled in. In the UK, Lord Beaverbrook, who boasted of running newspapers “solely for the purpose of propaganda”, called for isolation and appeasement. Lord Rothermere, who founded several British tabloids, praised Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy as the “best run” countries in Europe, while writing secretly to Hitler encouraging him to invade more countries. In the United States, William Randolph Hearst whitewashed Hitler’s actions, except when he criticized Nazi Germany for its alliance “with the Yellow Peril”, a racist way of describing Japan. Other major American publishers accused President Franklin Roosevelt of jeopardizing the American Constitution and his Jewish advisers of leading a foreign-led conspiracy. This book reminds readers that nationalist news outlets that spread fake news, praise foreign autocrats, and practice dog whistle politics are nothing new.

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