American Muckraker
by James O’Keefe
(Post Hill Press, 2022)

American Muckraker is a triumph: a chronicle of the dangers and victories of the modern journalist battling against a system that would prefer he/she not exist. Well-written and insightful, this book provides a clear view of what modern muckrakers contend with. “When thanked, the muckraker wonders what he is being thanked for. His job is not over. It is never over.” O’Keefe also answers the question of why the truth is destroyed by mainstream media sources and what prizes are in store for those who participate. He knows all too well the hardships that muckrakers endure, along with all its psychological torture, and articulates this well. This is just my opinion, but of all of O’Keefe’s works, I believe that this one is the best.

O’Keefe explains the history of American journalism in this text and discusses the various technologies, from the printing press to the video camera, that have served to democratize journalism and to empower citizens to become whistleblowers and activists. For example, he explains that “live video recording became affordable on an industrial scale. Handheld cameras could circle the globe like never seen before. For the first time, the individual could choose what was worth recording and, thanks to the VCR, could share that information freely.” This perspective gives us an idea of what an extraordinary time we are living through, with innovation and bravery empowering those who are steadily hammering away at the traditional pillars of power. As an English major, I appreciate that O’Keefe has cited his sources in each of the book’s eleven chapters, and the book certainly shows the exhaustive amount of research that he’s put into his work.

Although throughout the book, O’Keefe references the plight of the muckraker in particular, anyone with a bit of rebellion in their heart will sympathize with what he has to say. For example, “The muckraker cannot effectively change anything and come away unscathed. To make a difference, he will take a knock or two upon his reputation. The oppressors will attack his integrity as well. As he ascends, resistance is a necessary part of the turbulence.” Whether you stand against government tyranny, literary censorship, or the COVID narrative, you will be punished for it. This book has its finger on the pulse of the current historical age, as O’Keefe reminds us that “legitimate governments, the Declaration of Independence insists, ‘deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ If that consent is lacking, a government has no ‘just powers.’ America was never meant to descend into a corrupt tyranny. But in many ways it has, and it’s up to courageous journalists to keep government officials honest.”

Where would we be, as readers and critical thinkers, without alternate media sources, and without the brave muckrakers who risk their lives and livelihoods in the pursuit of truth? James O’Keefe gives us hope that the traditional rules of the game are changing. He writes that “the Big Media cartel is losing the ability to control the dissemination of information.” Well, I sure hope he’s right.

Click here to buy American Muckraker.