Now a major motion picture "The Front Runner" starring Hugh Jackman
An NPR Best Book of the Year
In May 1987, Colorado Senator Gary Hart—a dashing, reform-minded Democrat—seemed a lock for the party’s presidential nomination and led George H. W. Bush by double digits in the polls. Then, in one tumultuous week, rumors of marital infidelity and a newspaper’s stakeout of Hart’s home resulted in a media frenzy the likes of which had never been seen before.
Through the spellbindingly reported story of the Senator’s fall from grace, Matt Bai, Yahoo News columnist and former chief political correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, shows the Hart affair to be far more than one man’s tragedy: rather, it marked a crucial turning point in the ethos of political media, and the new norms of life in the public eye. All the Truth Is Out is a tour de force portrait of the American way of politics at the highest level, one that changes our understanding of how we elect our presidents and how the bedrock of American values has shifted under our feet.
Political columnist Bai (The Argument) makes a persuasive case for reexamining the career of presidential candidate Gary Hart, whose downfall in the wake of speculation about an extramarital affair, he argues, marks a turning point in the deterioration of American political journalism and democracy. Bai analyzes the forces coalescing around the scandal that brought down the Democratic frontrunner in May 1987, and captures those frenzied days in a masterfully written account. The possibility that a candidate might be lying about his sex life was not usually relevant, given the close relationship between major news outlets and politicians, but much had changed, especially given Watergate's influence on a generation of reporters. By the time allegations of adultery met Hart's campaign in New Hampshire, two previously separate streams, the tabloid press and political journalism, joined forces. The result has been "an unbridgeable divide... between our candidates and our media" and an accompanying lack of substance and transparency in the political process. Based on extensive interviews with reporters and campaign insiders, including Hart and Donna Rice (the then 29-year-old model photographed sitting on his lap), Bai appraises Hart the politician, political visionary, and high-minded yet obstinately private man, and asks what the country might have lost with his foreshortened career. This first-rate work of political journalism will fan embers long thought to have gone out. Photos.
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Important read for today’s political junkies
It’s important to think of our national leaders in the context of history. I admit that in 1987 I thought Hart committed some grave blunders that lead to his fall, when in fact, when looking back in the current political climate his blunders were microscopic. If Hart’s campaign began in 2015 instead of 1987 we as a nation would be enjoying a stable democracy rather than its watching its destruction.