CNN Boasts of ‘1984’ Book Sales Thanks to Fears of Trump; Only Footnotes Previous Spike

Following the lead of CNN’s Brian Stelter, Thursday’s Situation Room touted the spike of sales in the book 1984 and strongly hinted that Americans view the Trump administration as the real-life version of Big Brother portrayed in George Orwell’s classic.

Host Wolf Blitzer and correspondent Brian Todd also buried opposing viewpoints that the idea of government surveillance has been the case for multiple administrations with one book sales spike coming after Edward Snowden went public in 2013.

“And newspeak. As the Trump administration uses phrases like alternative facts, George Orwell's famous novel 1984 in which big brother controls a totalitarian future is now once again a best-seller,” Blitzer hyped in the first of three teases for Todd’s report.

Todd began his piece by touting unnamed “analysts” who claim “this could be a result of the public angst over political climate overall and it could also be a reflection of the new administration's very controversial first days.”

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Todd noted for those not familiar with the plot of the 1984 that it took place in “[a] terrifying future world where society is controlled by a totalitarian government, where facts are censored and truth is rewritten” and “two plus two equals five.”

Gushing over 1984 as now “enormously popular again,” Todd teed up George Washington University professor Elisabeth Anker:

I think people are buying it as a warning, as a sense of trying to understand what happens when a government is actually kind of blatantly dissimulating facts and asking people to believe them as truth and not backing down when there is evidence to the contrary. 

Again trotting out unspecified “analysts,” Todd ruled “some analysts suggest the increase in 1984 book sales could be a response to the new White House” seeing as how “[t]he Trump administration has been targeted by fact checkers for alleging massive voter fraud but offering no proof and battling with the press over the exaggerated claims from the White House about inaugural crowd size.”

To further beat this argument into the ground, commentator/journalist Carl Bernstein argued against “exact parallels with 1984but nonetheless determined that “Kellyanne Conway and the President of the United States, in their counter-truthful narratives well as specifics, are following an Orwellian road and it’s dangerous.”

Todd only decided to temper this hysteria at the end of his four-minute-long report, stating:

Analysts point out that one of the central themes in the book 1984, concept of big brother, that the government's eyes and ears are everywhere surveilling citizens, is not any more concern during Trump administration than during Barack Obama's term or George W. Bush’s. In fact, the book 1984 also saw a spike in sales in 2013 when Edward Snowden leaked information about NSA surveillance. 

Here are the relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s The Situation Room on January 25:

CNN’s The Situation Room
January 25, 2017
5:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: News Speak]

WOLF BLITZER: And news speak. As the Trump administration uses phrases like alternative facts, George Orwell's famous novel 1984 in which big brother controls a totalitarian future is now once again a best-seller.
(....)

5:51 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: New Tonight; Orwell’s “1984" on Totalitarian Future is Best Seller Again]

BLITZER: With a surge in orders since Election Day, George Orwell's famous novel 1984 in which Big Brother controls a totalitarian future is now a best seller once again. Brian Todd has been looking into that development for us. What are you learning, Brian? 

BRIAN TODD: Wolf, tonight, the publisher of 1984 seemingly can't print new copies of the novel fast enough to keep up with demand. Analysts say this could be a result of the public angst over political climate overall and it could also be a reflection of the new administration's very controversial first days. A terrifying future world where society is controlled by a totalitarian government, where facts are censored and truth is rewritten. A story where two plus two equals five. 

VOICE FROM MGM MOVIE 1984: The standard of living has risen by no less than 20 percent over the last year. 

TODD: This is one of the movies based on the book 1984, written 68 years ago by George Orwell. A book that tonight is enormously popular again. Number one on Amazon's best seller list in such demand that the publisher, Penguin, is furiously printing more copies of the book. 

GWU’s ELISABETH ANKER: I think people are buying it as a warning, as a sense of trying to understand what happens when a government is actually kind of blatantly dissimulating facts and asking people to believe them as truth and not backing down when there is evidence to the contrary. 

TODD: 1984 follows the path of the character Wintson Smith, a man who lives under a government that controls everything to destroy truth tells lies. It’s propaganda is called newspeak.

CHARACTER FROM MGM MOVIE 1984: Have you seen the tenth edition of the Newspeak Dictionary? 

TODD: Tonight, some analysts suggest the increase in 1984 book sales could be a response to the new White House. The Trump administration has been targeted by fact checkers for alleging massive voter fraud but offering no proof and battling with the press over the exaggerated claims from the White House about inaugural crowd size. 

SEAN SPICER [on 01/21/17]: Photographs of Inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way in one particular tweet to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall. 

TODD: Presidential aide Kellyanne Conway went on NBC’s Meet the Press and defended the White House press secretary. 

KELLYANNE CONWAY [on 01/22/17]: Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that, but the point here is -- 

CHUCK TODD [on 01/22/17]: What a minute. Alternative facts? 

TODD: CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein has called Conway the Minister of Propaganda. 

CARL BERNSTEIN: Kellyanne Conway and the President of the United States, in their counter-truthful narratives well as specifics, are following an Orwellian road and it’s dangerous. It is disturbing and it is intense, but in terms of the exact parallels with 1984, I’d be a little careful. 

TODD: University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato says some of the early moves may be driving comparisons but he also says it is early. 

LARRY SABATO: Any conclusions that you reach when an administration is only days old can easily be wrong and certainly they’re premature. So, you can criticize the fact that people are already reaching these conclusions. I think, reasonably, we ought to give it more time. But the early signs are concerning and I think that's why a lot of people are re-reading or reading for the first time 1984. Orwell may have been on to something. 

TODD: Analysts point out that one of the central themes in the book 1984, concept of big brother, that the government's eyes and ears are everywhere surveilling citizens, is not any more concern during Trump administration than during Barack Obama's term or George W. Bush’s. In fact, the book 1984 also saw a spike in sales in 2013 when Edward Snowden leaked information about NSA surveillance. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much. Very, very interesting.  


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