In This Review

Ctrl Alt Delete: How Politics and the Media Crashed Our Democracy
Ctrl Alt Delete: How Politics and the Media Crashed Our Democracy
By Tom Hurst
Hurst, 2018, 320 pp

Baldwin has worked as a Washington-based political reporter, a top London newspaper editor, and the communications director for the British Labour Party. In this book, he traces the politicization of print and TV journalism, the rise of Web-based scandalmongers, the ever more sophisticated big-data techniques that election campaigns use, and the recent exploitation of all the new technologies involved to undermine democracy by nefarious actors, from domestic extremists in the United States and Europe to Russian President Vladimir Putin. His basic argument is hardly controversial: digital technology has changed how people analyze, manipulate, and understand politics. Yet he does show how deep-seated the problem is. These trends have been building for decades. The fact that those who contributed to them, or sought to combat them, often had little idea what they were doing—or what the long-term consequences would be—does not bode well for Baldwin’s concluding proposal to rescue democracy through a “soft reboot” of digital technology. Nonetheless, Baldwin’s journalistic personality—curious, garrulous, and ironic—shines through the many amusing anecdotes about how things got to be this way.