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Reality Show Hardcover – October 9, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
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but this book lacks the brilliant analysis of the last truly great book on TV news, Ken Auletta's masterful but now outdated, Three Blind Mice, Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way published in 1992.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.
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...
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?...Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Howard Kurtz loves to hear the sound of his own voice, and nowhere is it more evident than in this long, verbose book about TV news. Read morePublished on July 7, 2008 by Mediaman
If you are interested in the competitive frenzy that goes on between the various network news outlets each weekday, then you will understand why I have given Mr. Read morePublished on May 10, 2008 by Nathan A. Gordon
I found this book very interesting and very hard to put down. I finished it in 3-4 days after picking it up at the library. Read morePublished on December 27, 2007 by J. M. Leatherwood Jr.
I often enjoy Kurt'z Media Notes column in the Washington Post, which is what led me to buy this book. I was very disappointed for a variety of reasons. Read morePublished on November 26, 2007 by T. Tucker
I found out very provocative and fun. It all depends on your expectations. Good reading during the holidays, if you want to decompress from all the stress associated with... Read morePublished on November 23, 2007 by Luis GB
It's proof of Howard Kurtz's being totally out of it that he thinks readers are even interested in this topic. Read morePublished on November 6, 2007 by kiwikit
I thought Kurtz was supposed to be an outside observer of media. This book certainly corrects that. He is so "inside-the-beltway" that it boggles the mind. Read morePublished on October 21, 2007 by Tom Markus
I probably should have done more background on Kurtz, but he seems like a fair guy. I also heard a lot of his interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. Read morePublished on October 19, 2007 by N. Soltvedt