Pseudo-Events: Term Coined in 1961 Still Resonates in 2018

While popping in and out of my office one morning, catching Rush Limbaugh in patches, I heard him mention a provocative term called “pseudo-events.” He was talking about an article he’d read that referred to Daniel J. Boorstein’s book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, a take on the metamorphosis (I say decline) in news reporting since the inception of newspapers in America. His take is uncannily prescient. The book was published in 1961!

The term pseudo-events struck me when I thought about how news reporting affected me as a police officer. I’d read newspaper accounts of incidents I’d been at, and I could hardly recognize any truth or accuracy in the stories. Though I didn’t use the term then, editors and reporters were creating pseudo-events. Turning what happened into something different to fit a predetermined narrative. It got so bad during the 1999 Seattle WTO riots that the biased reporting forced me to drop my newspaper subscription.