'The book’s central thesis is that the media and politicians are locked into a dumbed-down, trivial, vicious circle, that is for the most part instigated by dumb, lazy journalism, and dumb media organisation that encourage such journalism and coverage of politics. So well argued and accurate is Tanner’s thesis that I think this may actually be the first time a book’s thesis has been completely proven correct before the book has even been officially launched. The book is a very complex and intelligent discussion of politics and the media.'
Greg Jericho, Grog's Gamut
'Journalists are going to hate this book as in page after page our shortcomings are laid bare - distortion, selective reporting, trivialisation, our obsession with celebrity nonentities, you name it, it's there. And it pains me to have to tell you ... [Tanner's] criticism is fair.'
James Campbell, Herald Sun
'One of the most significant books of the last decade.'
Mark Latham, Spectator
'Tanner, a politician of considerable talent and integrity, has given much thought to the sorry state of politics in Australia.'
Ross Fitzgerald, Sydney Morning Herald
'Well, just as I was warming up for the Royal Wedding, I was confronted with one of my old political foes, Lindsay Tanner, publishing a book called Sideshow, dumbing down democracy. ... I haven't read the book so I am entirely dependent on media reports of it. But the central hypothesis seems to be that politics these days is "like a Hollywood blockbuster - all special effects and no plot". He goes on to say that there are two cardinal rules of government - "look like you're doing something" and "don't offend anyone who matters".
And this behaviour, we are told, is because there's so much media around that ministers and the prime minister are forced to dumb down politics in order to handle it all.’
Alexander Downer, The Advertiser
'A thoughtful, meticulously researched analysis of the interplay between politics and the media.'
Barrie Cassidy, The Age
'Considered and intelligent.'
'Tanner deserves credit for this challenging, well-researched critique of how our politics is reported and presented in the media. Sideshow is an engaging book, supported by examples drawn from his experience as a union official, shadow minister and minister. Anyone who believes our democracy has not lately been at its best will find it a valuable companion to any deliberation about how we can fix that. It has already proved influential in shaping the language in which we discuss our political culture.'
Tim Soutphommasane, The Australian
'[Sideshow] gives the media some brutal serves and has generated more widespread interest than many a tome from many a former politician.'
Errol Simper, The Australian
'A withering critique of the media and a revealing first-person mediation on the frustrations of political leadership in the information age ... He is one of the precious minds capable of generating the kind of substantial ideas that can inspire a party and renew its policy agenda.'
Andrew Charlton, The Monthly
'Tanner has made a valuable contribution to the debate, and it is a debate worth having.'
Mary Vernon, Townsville Bulletin
'This book contains painful truths for journalists and politicians. It provides a pitiless, first-hand exposure of the trivialisation of our national discourse by the media, aided and abetted by the political classes.'
'Sideshow shows how the media’s obsession to entertain at all costs ultimately transforms news and current affairs into a kind of fiction. Tanner documents numerous examples in which the central burden of a published story turns out to be the exact opposite of the truth. And yet so inured are the players to their assigned role that not a finger is lifted. We’ve been heading here for many decades, but Tanner’s examples shocked even my jaded palate ... Read it and weep for what we have done. And ponder how we might make things a little better.'
'Lindsay Tanner does us all a service in underlining the inadequacies inherent in the relationship between politicians and the media. These circumstances degrade public life and diminish our future. It must be changed.'
Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH, former prime minister of Australia
‘We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We've got better stuff to do.’
'Lindsay Tanner is probably the best leader that the Australian Labor Party never had ... Here is a test for the media: read Tanner's book, acknowledge the truth of it, report it seriously and at least try to learn from it.'
'[Tanner has] written a characteristically considered book about the superficiality that can sometimes get in the way of a proper examination of our national challenges and our economic priorities.'