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Beyond Bias: Conservative Media, Documentary Form, and the Politics of Hysteria, Scott Krzych

Reviewed by Geoffrey Baym

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Prior to his work with the 2016 Donald Trump campaign, the website Breitbart, and the data firm Cambridge Analytica, Steve Bannon produced documentary films. Those might not be good cinema, but they illustrate the long-standing effort by right-wing provocateurs to weaponize documentary as another tool of information warfare. Scholars of political media have paid little attention to this phenomenon, however, overlooking its significance in the ecosystem of conservative media. Scott Krzych's Beyond Bias presents a meaningful attempt to fill that academic void.

Beyond Bias offers a philosophically rich textual analysis of a range of conservative documentaries, employing psychoanalytic film theory to uncover the deep logic of this mode of political media. Exploring Christian fundamentalist films, conservative rebuttals to the progressive documentarian Michael Moore, anti-Obama documentaries, and a number of Hillary Clinton attack projects (including Bannon's), Krzych works through the aesthetic-political form of these films and the ways they deploy affect in order to destabilize the information environment and undermine the possibilities of meaningful dialogue across political difference. This work will resonate most with those trained in the nuances of Lacanian theory: the writing is dense in places, and the nonspecialist would b

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