Cover image for Grand theft 2000 : media spectacle and a stolen election
Grand theft 2000 : media spectacle and a stolen election
Kellner, Douglas, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxi, 242 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
E889 .K45 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The battle for the White House following the election of November 7, 2000 was arguably one of the major media spectacles in U.S. history, comparable to the Army-McCarthy hearings, the Kennedy assassination, the Watergate hearings, the Iran-Contra affair, the O.J. Simpson trial, and, most recently, the Clinton sex scandals and Impeachment trials. The election was in many ways more contained and circumscribed than these other epochal events, taking place over 36 days from the uncertainty of election night to Al Gore's concession on December 13 and George W. Bush's acceptance of the mantle of President-Elect. The story was highly theatrical with ups and downs, and surprises and reversals, for the candidates and the global audience, exhibiting unpredictability and uncertainty until the end. Its colorful cast of characters and melodramatic story line could hardly be bettered by the most creative Hollywood central casting. In Grand Theft 2000, Douglas Kellner recounts the story of a stolen election and Republican coup d'etat, focusing on the flaws of the system of democracy in the United States that allowed this event to take place. Kellner examines what the events of Election 2000 tell us about politics in the U.S. today and the alarming consequences for democracy in the battle for the White House. Grand Theft 2000 presents a historical narrative of the heist of the presidency as well as a critique of the media and political system that registers a crisis of democracy in the U.S.A. today. Arguing that the media are largely to blame for the theft of the presidency by the "Bush machine," Kellner shows how failures of voting technology and literacy, Republican manipulation of the Florida electoral process and political system in the counting of the votes, and structural problems with the system of democracy in the United States reveals a crisis of democracy that requires radical measures. Concluding sections on "Lesson and Conclusions" suggests some solutions to the problems revealed and a final secti

Author Notes

Douglas Kellner is the George F. Kneller Chair in the philosophy of education at UCLA and author of numerous books.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kellner (Television and the Crisis of Democracy) originally planned a chapter on the 2000 election in another book but expanded it in light of the postelection drama. The result is somewhat formless and unfocused, with an improvisational air as Kellner's shifting lens encompasses everything from direct reportage on the television spectacle to brief reflections on corporate media agendas, intriguing but neglected stories covered only in print or cyberspace, and various theoretical considerations and speculations. Kellner, a professor of the philosophy of education at UCLA, develops a good number of interesting ideas, arguments and stories only enough to whet readers' appetites. These range from the squalid (understudied scandals of the Bush clan dating back to Prescott's involvement financing Hitler) to the crucial (how Gore was tarred as a liar for substantially truthful claims, while Bush's distortions were repeated as gospel) to the abstract (how do conservative denunciations of relativism and postmodern views of "truth" square with the Republicans' relentless attack on the classic search for truth embodied in counting votes?). His sporadic, underdeveloped discussion of Republicans projecting their own sins onto Democrats is particularly frustrating. But Kellner is no great fan of Gore's. He is instead a fan of Deweyist participatory democracy and clearly shares the outrage of disenfranchised minorities, whose cause and complaints, he shows, were neglected by TV. He's hopeful that continuation of the over-the-top antics he chronicles will bring about a reaction, but far sharper critiques of the media have been offered by other observers, such as Mark Crispin Miller. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

The media play an important role in American elections. From coverage of candidates to framing of issues, polling, providing election night coverage and predictions, and serving as a forum for paid candidate advertising, the media--especially television--are a ubiquitous presence in politics. According to Douglas Kellner, this role was highlighted in the 2000 election, both in the way the media sought to portray Bush and Gore during the campaign and in how the postelection legal disputes in Florida were covered. Drawing on his previous work on the media, the author describes how the 2000 election can be viewed as a narrative, with the media telling a story. Unfortunately, the storyteller was biased, and much of the book describes how major newspapers and television stations, because they were owned by major for-profit corporations, gave more favorable coverage to Bush than to Gore during and after the election. A central claim of the book is that the media have failed to act in a way that supports democracy, instead covering issues that squash openness and accountability in the name of capitalism. Suitable for collections on the media and politics. All levels. D. Schultz Hamline University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
1 Media Spectacle and Election 2000p. 1
2 The Longest Nightp. 21
3 Indecision 2000p. 31
4 Out of Controlp. 51
5 Legal Wrangling and Political Spectaclep. 65
6 Democracy at Stakep. 81
7 Day of Infamyp. 99
8 The Media and the Crisis of Democracyp. 117
9 Bushspeak, Postmodern Sophistry, and Republican Stalinismp. 135
10 The Battle for Democracyp. 151
11 Aftermathp. 185
Referencesp. 221
Indexp. 225