One of America’s most important young journalists delivers the first substantial piece of narrative nonfiction to chronicle the hard-fought closing months of the 2012 presidential campaign in PANIC 2012. Michael Hastings – BuzzFeed correspondent at large; Rolling Stone contributor; George Polk Award winner; and critically acclaimed, New York Times-bestselling author of The Operators – presents an in-your-face, on-the-ground, real-time, singular account of how the Obama campaign privately panicked and ultimately recovered after the President’s disastrous performance in his first debate with Mitt Romney. In the tradition of iconoclastic journalists such as Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Ben Cramer, and P. J. O’Rourke, Hastings offers an edgy, rollicking, wholly original portrayal of the enormous and intense political operation that is an American presidential campaign.
For any political junkie, this is a read-all-night revelation of the hard-fought 2012 presidential campaign. Rolling Stone contributing editor Hastings, on an election coverage assignment for BuzzFeed, moves at warp speed with the press contingent through grueling travel schedules and second-rate accommodations, all the while aware of gamesmanship among so-called colleagues, the White House press corps, "some of the most vicious and competitive journalists on the planet." This story, not directed to admirers of Mitt Romney, dissects the flaws in the Republican campaign and presents riveting accounts of the presidential debates. Hastings unveils the personalities within the campaign teams, from hypercompetitive campaign managers to the "creatively vicious" ad men. He's critical but respectful of these behind-the-scenes players, reserving his venom for "ex-journalists hacks turned flacks," who "were barely able to disguise their contempt for what they once were." Highlights include a chronology of the Benghazi attack, the moment when Vice President Biden jumped ahead of the president with comments on gays, and Obama's participation in an online Q&A which influenced an estimated 30,000 people to register to vote. In one way, this is an exhausting read; you feel like you slogged through the campaign yourself.