Hot Air: All Talk, All the Time

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Basic Books, 1997 - Performing Arts - 423 pages
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"Extremism in the pursuit of ratings is no vice." So runs one of the guiding tenets of modern broadcast media, and in "Hot Air, " Howard Kurtz presents an eye-opening exploration of the new talk-show culture, where a sharp tongue and the ability to shock have replaced insight and substance, and where celebrity reporters and commentators have become bigger than the stories they report.

Kurtz, the award-winning media critic for the " Washington Post, " chronicles the rise of today's most visible media personalities, from Larry King and Ted Koppel to Don Imus and Geraldo Rivera, offering a guided tour to our new electronic democracy, in which everyone has an opinion, and everyone gets to hear about it. The result, Kurtz believes, is a cheapening of the national discourse into a witch's brew of sound bites and bile, where strange theories are spouted without fear of contradiction, accusations hurled without rebuttal and conspiracies conjured without evidence. Surprising, powerful and insightful, "Hot Air" reveals how talk shows are polluting the political process and, in a new afterword, Kurtz lays bare its sorry results in the 1996 presidential campaign."An indispensable guide to the background and motivation of principal players--the thoughtful, the dangerous, and the obscene."--Walter CronkiteA

"The definitive book on the talk-show explosion."--David Remnick, "The New Yorker"

"Kurtz does a wonderful job taking the reader behind the scenes to watch shock jockeys and cynical pundits at work."--Thomas Rosenstiel, "Newsweek"

"An important, sophisticated book."--A. M. Rosenthal, "New York Times"

"Delicious to read, puncturing the pompousness, fatuousness, and ethicalbacksliding that have indeed crept into America's media."--David Harbrecht, "Business Week"

"A vivid account of an explosive and corrosive force in our society. "Hot Air" provides an invaluable service by calling attention to developments many have sensed but non one has documented so thoroughly."--Deborah Tannen, "Washington Post Book World"

  

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Hot air: all talk, all the time

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"It's a talk show jungle out there," journalist Kurtz writes, "...the airways are crackling with insults, arguments, spin, and speculation." He covers in fascinating detail the cultural shift inherent ... Read full review

Contents

THREE
26
Daytime Dysfunction
49
FOUR
60
The King of Schmooze
75
Caught in the Crossfire
100
S E V E
151
EIGHT
171
NINE
185
ELEVEN
243
Radio Rebels
256
The Influence Game
289
THIRTEEN
310
FOURTEEN
338
The Future of Talk
356
Afterword
374
Sources
391

Talking for Dollars
203
The Rush Hour
228

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About the author (1997)

Howard Kurtz is media critic for the Washington Post and is a regular panelist on CNN's Reliable Sources. He is also the author of Media Circus, named the best recent book on the media by the American Journalism Review.

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