America is awash in talk. Loud talk, angry talk, conspiratorial talk that has changed the nature of journalism and politics, producing a high-decibel revolution in the way we communicate. In this fascinating, maddening, behind-the-scenes look at America's powerful talk shows, the author of Media Circus examines their excesses, conflicts, and impact, and explains how they are changing our culture.
Kurtz (Media Circus) takes a no-holds-barred look at America's electronic media from radio and TV talk shows to the Sunday morning punditocracy, which he calls a testosterone-driven calling. He skewers John McLaughlin and his McLaughlin Group for inaccuracy (they seldom predict an election right) and lack of preparation, even getting panelist Jack Germond to admit, "I am not comfortable with any of this, but I do it for the money." Kurtz then moves on to Phil Donahue, the granddaddy of daytime talk-show hosts. Covering such topics as dwarf-tossing and cross-dressing, Donahue pioneered the way for his successors from Geraldo Rivera, who had on-air liposuction performed on his own butt, to Jenny Jones, whose on-air ambush of a guest led to real-life homicide. He examines the lives of the pristine pontificators on the Sunday morning political shows, casting aspersions on their journalistic integrity (George Will once coached Ronald Reagan for a debate with Jimmy Carter, then later declared Reagan the winner on ABC) and noting their obvious conflicts of interest (journalists often give paid speeches to organizations they are reporting on). He also takes a close look at the not-so-orderly personal lives of such radio icons as Larry King and Rush Limbaugh. Kurtz has written a scathing profile of the national media and pseudo-media that will have intelligent Americans wondering why they just don't flick the dial to "Off." Major ad/promo; author tour.