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Hot Air:: All Talk, All the Time Hardcover – January 30, 1996

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 407 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (January 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812926242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812926248
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,298,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Talk has never been cheaper in political journalism. On radio and TV, cable and network, there are now dozens of political talk shows. They range from the calm and ego-less Brian Lamb conducting a C-Span roundtable to the vein-popping G. Gordon Liddy telling his listeners exactly where to shoot federal agents. For this book, Howard Kurtz, a Washington Post media reporter and sometime talk show guest himself, interviewed nearly everyone associated with the genre. Frequently, the interviewees put their finger on what's wrong. "It's gotten to be a game," Sam Donaldson says of the guests on ABC's This Week. "They come on with one thing in mind--to put forward their view on a particular topic or two, but make certain they don't give us anything else. . . . They'll lie as part of their game plan. I can't immediately disprove what they're saying. . . . We're just an extension of the PR mechanism." According to Michael Kinsley of Slate (and former Crossfire cohost), what television wants is "jovial disagreement. We're all pals here, just joshing around in the locker room, when I think they're (expletive) liars."

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Freeman on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Howard Kurtz is an insider. He knows about that which he speaks. As a result this book offered wonderful insight into the program format of "talk." Although I can't put my finger on exactly why, it seems that the talk format got a lot of attention in the early 1990s. Perhaps it was because Rush Limbaugh was getting so much attention after the '94 elections; or that James Carville was single-handedly dumbing down the political talk show circuit? In any case, Kurtz go this book out in 1996 right at the tail end of the whole deal.
The stories are classic Kurtz and as such are quite entertaining, but take 'em with a grain of salt. I based my masters thesis on a premise in another Kurtz book (Spin Cycle) only to discover that a quantitative analysis proved the premise slightly off-mark. In other words, when Kurtz says that Imus was responsible (or "helpful") for getting Bill Clinton elected, it's a good idea to pause and take note of all the factors involved.
The genre is certainly fascinating fare, but Kurtz often wants us to believe that talk show hosts are the real agenda-setters in our society. The fact is that mass society theory (aka: magic bullet or hypodermic needle approaches) has largely been discounted. We know that the influence of these shows can be great in certain instances, but by and large their influence is best described as moderate. If you want to push the case that people who watch Jerry Springer everyday are prone to behavioral disorders, I would recommend reading several research articles by George Gerbner (or Bandura & Ross) and then rejoining the discussion.
In fact, the whole book is a budding communication researcher's dream. There are so many passages that are screaming to be tested.
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Format: Paperback
Howard Kurtz gives the best analysis I've seen of today's talk show circus. His best point is that "television is the enemy of complexity." Tons of details are available on virtually every major talk show host/hostess and regular participants, both in radio and television. I like this book much more than I expected, and encourage anyone who likes "talking head" shows to give it a look.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Welsh on September 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book with one goal in mind: cure myself of my own tendency to watch the talk shows. Not so much Springer/Stern, etc.., but the Sunday a.m. and evening politcial shows - particularly Crossfire. And this book definitely accomplished that goal.
The most striking thing to me is how disingenuous this whole culture has become. Anything to get on TV seems to be the theme. We have always made that comment when watching some buffoon on Jenny Jones expose their sad life for all the world. Now we can add Robert Novak,, to the list. They just go about it in a more high-minded manner and expose their self-righteous beliefs and attitudes.
If these shows really cared about content, they would have more objective hosts and panelists. But it's entertainment and so we get Sam Donaldson and John McLaughlin.
Oh well, I'm cured.
On the other hand, it was slightly tedious at times (like the shows themselves) because there is only so much one can say about this genre.
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