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Reality Show Hardcover – October 9, 2007

2.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Howard Kurtz is the media reporter for The Washington Post, and also writes a weekly column for the newspaper and a daily blog for its website. He is also host of CNN's Reliable Sources, the longest-running media criticism show on television. His previous books include New York Times bestselling Spin Cycle: Inside the Clinton Propaganda Machine (1998) and The Fortune Tellers: Inside Wall Street's Game of Money, Media, and Manipulation (2000). His book Hot Air: All Talk All the Time (1996) was named by Business Week as one of the ten best business books of the year and Media Circus: The Trouble with America's Newspapers (1993) was chosen as the best recent book about the news media by American Journalism Review. Kurtz joined The Washington Post in 1981, and his work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Newsweek, New York, and other national magazines. He lives with his family in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (October 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743299825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743299824
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,968,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This was near the top of my most anticipated books of '07 and while it isn't the great book I'd hoped for, it's fairly engrossing.

There's lots of juicy gossip, but this book lacks the brilliant analysis of the last truly great book on TV news, Ken Auletta's masterful but now outdated, Three Blind Mice, Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way published in 1992. It also isn't nearly as good as Kurtz's previous book, Spin Cycle: How the White House and the Media Manipulate the News

The most interesting information in Reality Show is about how the networks choose to package and angle coverage of the Iraq war. Are they covering the war or determining how the war is perceived? Kurtz's reportage in this book will definitely add fuel to that debate.

Out of all the major players, I think Brian Williams comes off the best in this book. He seems to be a diligent, thoughtful reporter and a basically good guy. On the other hand, while I had felt a little sorry for Katie Couric, it now seems clear she has only herself to blame for her flameout at CBS. Speaking of self-made flameouts at CBS News, Reality Show contains some juicy background on the Dan Rather memogate fiasco.

As others have mentioned, the editing of this book is subpar making it hard to follow. It's also too skimpy on insight and analysis for me, but it is informative and worth reading if you're interested in the workings of TV news.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some interesting background on the current top TV news anchors and the journeys to their jobs - it is curiously a limited and skewed perspective that focuses almost solely on the Big 3 anchors and so provides limited context and analysis of the news business overall.

Moreever it is a really badly-written book with jumbled characters and no sense of chronology/ continuity - I was surprised given that I have liked Kurtz' columns in the Post, but maybe he is at home only in a shorter format.

Worth the read only if you really need to know that both Brian Williams and Bush use the f-word around Howard Kurtz, and other such behind-the-scenes details...
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Format: Hardcover
It's a little docu; it's a little bit gossip; it's a little bit drama; it's a lot tabloid.

If you're looking for a hard-hitting look at what's going on in network TV news, forget this one. The sub-title is: "The Last Great Television News War," but evidently there's not much between-the-network warring going on. Kurtz details lots of battling, but it's usually softball and polite...and mostly between anchors and the behind-the-scenes players of each of the news shows...NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and ABC World News.

Kurtz tells us how Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson, Katie Couric all came to occupy their respective anchor-chairs...with schmoozing top brass an apparent #1 requirement for the positions. We learn Williams long-time wanted the spot; Gibson would be happy without it...but Katie is Kurtz' anointed one. He pretty much ignores the adventures of now top-ranked Charles Gibson. He can't stop talking about Brian Williams. He's the ever-present cheerleader for poor underdog Katie. It all gets pretty dull pretty fast.

--You'd think we'd learn about network news as a cut-throat, slimy, back-stabbing endeavor. Maybe it is, but we don't learn that here. By the book's cover, you get the feeling that un-revealable secrets of the business will be revealed. -But it's not a rugged, no-holds barred expose of Network vs. Network strategies. Instead, it comes loaded up with soft touch, wimpy anecdotes, emotion and reminiscences...surely designed to help satisfy pop culture's insatiable appetite for the "inside scoop" on our TV stars, news anchors included. To spice-up his story?...to help to make the high-rent news-stars seem more human?...
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Format: Hardcover
I remember when this book came out in October amid little fanfare. There seemed to be a hint that the publisher was bringing it out quietly because of a fear of leaks, as if it included some explosive information. Well, so much for that.

Unless you're dazzled by tidbits like Brian Williams (who must have had Kurtz attached to his hip for six months) doing his laundry, and the great demand for George Stephanopolous (uh, right), you will have little interest in this book's meandering format.

Jon Stewart is featured on the back cover....although he's barely mentioned. Just a blatant attempt to get people under 45 to buy this book. Apparently it didn't work.

The book is also riddled with spelling and factual errors, probably because it was rushed to press...which is inexplicable, considering its lukewarm content.

There's very little here that hasn't already been beaten to death in various newspaper columns and blogs. And due to the author's obvious closeness to many of his subjects (some of whom come off much better than others), I get the feeling that 2 or 3 key subjects of the book approved the stuff written about them. In other words, it's kind of icky.
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