Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deja vu all over again, March 25, 2011
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This review is from: The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy (Hardcover)
From the moment things went down at NBC in early 2010, I wanted to read this book... and it hadn't even been written yet! I just knew there was so much inside baseball going on between the suits at NBC and Conan and Leno that a book would bring to light and I could sink my teeth into.
The War for Late Night is a very good book. There is plenty of juicy inside baseball and if you come into your book reading experience looking for villains in this story, yeah, there are a few. But the reason why I titled my review "Deja vu all over again", is because some of the characters have changed but it's the same story from the early nineties : NBC totally screwed up. This time around I think their folly was trying to have their cake and eat it too. The whole thing started because they didn't want to lose Conan to another network. Then there was the issue of what to do with Jay because you don't want to lose him to another network, either. This book teaches that in life, as in business, tough decisions must be made. It would have been rough for NBC if they lost Conan to another network, but in the end they did anyway, just with more egg on their face. I came away from this book realizing that when you make a decision, you must wait for the fallout, because there will always be a fallout. To try to avoid that is like avoiding the inevitable. You can delay the inevitable, but it will always find its way to you. That's one of those rules of life and the smarty pants executives at NBC tried to best it. That's why this book is perfect for anyone who is sick and tired of those smarty pants media elites and want to read a detailed, compelling, utterly readable book about said media elites being served a humongous, humiliating slice of humble pie.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 4, 2011 4:57:28 PM PDT
MLIS2012 says:
I'm surprised after seeing that you wrote this was a very good book you only gave it 3 stars?

In reply to an earlier post on May 5, 2011 6:05:54 AM PDT
kaduzy says:
I second that, that is exactly why I came to comment. Your review glows with praise, so why rate it just three stars?

Posted on Sep 17, 2012 3:12:23 AM PDT
I thought your comments about "plenty of juicy inside baseball" and "if you're looking for villains you find some here" were rather puzzling, as I thought the main weakness of this book was the author's painstaking efforts to avoid giving any real details about the nasty in-fighting and his failure to name any villains or express any sort of opinion of his own on what happened and who was to blame.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2012 5:07:48 PM PDT
kaduzy says:
A good journalist NEVER gives a personal opinion when reporting something. The whole purpose of journalism is to remain objective and report what happened. Little surprise that few people realize that in today's Faux News era, but Bill Carter is a real journalist, and would never have gotten this much access to all the principal players if he took a side. As for lack of details about "nasty in-fighting" -- wow, what exactly were YOU looking for? That's what the whole book is! Your comment is far more puzzling than anything in this review!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2012 7:56:52 PM PDT
MLIS2012 says:
Please Google "New Journalism" and "new new journalism."

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2013 10:31:01 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 29, 2013 10:36:33 AM PST
I agree that journalists should remain objective - the fact that we have bias in our media is perhaps the most common criticism of our foundering newspaper industry, as well as television news shows.

However, authoring a book isn't the same thing as writing a newspaper or magazine article. A book should have a point, some central focus other than merely to tell the tale with extreme arm's length detachment, it should have some sort of raison d'etre. Reading through hundreds of pages only to find that the author chose not to render any opinions at all is a bit of a letdown. Report on the facts objectively, but include some interpretation and analysis, some sort of opinion that involves a conclusion other than "Some things happened, some people became unhappy, and then the situation became resolved."

I felt that what was most important to Carter was telling this story in such a way that he would be able to maintain future access to every person he interviewed. I felt this concern (not a concern for journalistic evenhandedness, integrity, etc...), was his predominent motivation in how he wrote this book. I also feel that it caused a loss of focus, and, perhaps, ironically, a lack of objectivity. Did you notice how no one in this book was portrayed in a negative light, or even as much of an emotional person, notwithstanding the fact that the players involved have huge egos and developed highly passionate opinions about how unfairly they were treated? Carter even sugar coats Zucker's central role in fiasco. Ironically, I think his efforts to be so "fair" to every person he interviewed meant that he likely left out the nastier statements and events from this tale to avoid angering anyone. Is that good journalism? Not to me it isn't.
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