Near the end of this fight-to-the-death story of Good Morning America versus the Today Show, Stelter writes, “relatively few people knew who the warring executives were.” And that’s part of the problem with this book. Although Stelter, a media reporter at the New York Times, makes a heroic effort to identify the suits, it’s still fairly easy to mix up the players, whose machinations make up a big part of the story. More familiar, of course, are the stars of the broadcasts: Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, Robin Roberts, et al. The focus here is on the decision (dubbed Operation Bambi) to get Curry out of the chair next to Lauer, who felt no chemistry with her. At the same time, Today, which had been number one in the ratings for more than 800 weeks, was beginning to hear the footsteps of second-place GMA closing the gap. After Today dumped—excuse me, promoted—Curry and Robin Roberts fell ill with a blood disease, the battle became more pitched. Stelter injects himself into the narrative, which aims for a breezy tone (“some crazy shit is going down”). With more than 350 interviews under his belt (though no Lauer or Curry), he does have insider props. In the end, however, while this account does have its fascinating moments, they would have easily fit into a long magazine article. Give this to fans of Bill Carter’s The Late Shift (1994) and The War for Late Night (2010) about a similar battle for nighttime ratings supremacy. --Ilene Cooper
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About the Author
Brian Stelter is a staff writer at the New York Times,
where he writes about television and the web, both for the paper and for the paper's blog. He was recently a subject of the NYT
documentary Page One.
Before joining the Times
in 2007, he was the founder and editor of TVNewser, the pre-eminent blog about the television news industry. He sold TVNewser to MediaBistro in 2004.
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