Sneaking Into the Flying Circus: How the Media Turn Our Presidential Campaigns Into Freak Shows

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, May 9, 2005 - Political Science - 299 pages
3 Reviews
Alexandra Pelosi, creator of the Emmy award-winning film Journeys with George and of Diary of a Political Tourist, makes her literary debut with an intimate look at the frenzied and grueling underbelly of presidential campaigning and the puppet role of the media. Pelosi went along on the campaign trail in order to, as she puts it, "document the absurd hazing rituals that our presidential candidates have to go through." With this savvy, well-connected, and fearless guide, it's a rollicking, breakneck journey unlike any other.
Pelosi's one-on-one time with the 2004 presidential candidates affords an up-close perspective on the highs and lows of campaign life: the genuine thrill of seeing America, the unrelenting grind of endless campaign stops, the hope and heartache of poll results. While the candidates try to stick to tightly constructed scripts, Pelosi's nonnetwork angle makes for revealing portraits of the men who wanted to be president.
But even more, Pelosi's approach reveals fundamental flaws in the media's election coverage. A former member of the campaign press corps, she turns her gimlet eye on the media, which are busy enacting their own election-time rituals: "Every election cycle journalists defy the theory of evolution, living sequestered on a bus, with no sleep, few showers, and tons of junk food, going town-to-town listening to the same speech over and over. You're stuck in this dysfunctional relationship between the news organization that has you there to do their bidding and the campaign that is trying to co-opt you."
And herein lies Pelosi's driving point: politicians and journalists don't trust each other, and so, in election coverage and in politics in general, the press is utterly hamstrung. Since the candidates never say anything unscripted and the journalists have to make nice in order to maintain access, modern presidential campaigns have become little more than media events. Politicians and journalists alike are going through the motions, and the voters have no idea who the candidates really are.
But Pelosi says the public are not fools: "Everyone knows that the media do not give them an accurate portrait of a person." No wonder people are apathetic. But whose fault is it? Are the candidates driving people away from the political process, or are the media keeping them out?
Probing, insightful, and lively, Sneaking into the Flying Circus exposes the election process for what it is: a three-ring gala production that comes to town every four years. As a nation and an audience, we're often willing to suspend disbelief -- and we often can't resist when the clowns try to get us in on the act. It is, after all, the greatest show on earth.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Sneaking Into the Flying Circus: How the Media Turn Our Presidential Campaigns into Freak Shows

User Review  - Jason Roland - Goodreads

Fun Read full review

Review: Sneaking Into the Flying Circus: How the Media Turn Our Presidential Campaigns into Freak Shows

User Review  - Jfarley - Goodreads

Typical campaign book, great fun... Pelosi has quite the sense of humor. Read full review

Contents

ACT
1
The Early Favorite
9
The Man of the House
15
Meeting Up with the Deansters
21
How to Use Your Family
27
Your First Photo Op
34
My Summer Vacation with the Grahams
42
Alert the Media
53
Heroes or Zeros
133
Look Whos Back
143
Deans Demise
153
The General Dies Off
161
Everyone Loves Kerry
170
Seven Women Discover the Meaning of the Word
180
John Versus John
186
Who Has the Power?
194

Rock on Senator
59
06 Do You Know Where Your General Is?
67
What Are You Going to Do About the Chicken?
70
Meeting McGovern
77
See Dean People
83
Everyone Says John Kerry Is Done
90
The Invasion
97
Not Ready for Prime Time
105
John Edwards Is Hottt But Boring
114
Everyone Says Kerry Is Surging
121
Dean Versus the Media
127
ACT III
205
Back Inside the Bubble
211
Hunting with the Pack
224
Why Cant Aunt Zon Come to the Party?
232
Media Culpa Redux
243
Good Guys and Bad Guys
249
The Summer of Hate
257
Why Does Everyone Love Celebrities and Hate
264
Election Night
271
Acknowledgments
281
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information