Sound and fury: the Washington punditocracy and the collapse of American politics
In his shrewd, provocative, and entertaining Sound and Fury, journalist and historian Eric Alterman takes the first comprehensive survey of the world of political pundits - their history, their influence, their style and substance. How have the George Wills, the John McLaughlins, the Robert Novaks, the William Safires, the Pat Buchanans, and all the op-ed and opinion makers whom we have come to regard as authoritative voices on the subject of government actually achieved their authority? How do they deploy their power? Who really listens to them, and what does their ascendancy mean for our political future?
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Alterman, a media critic more recently known for "What Liberal Media?," here dissects what he calls the "punditocracy:" The high-profile columnists and commentators who, he argues, wield far too much opinion-making power in Washington and other centers of power. The problem with pundits, Alterman argues, is that they peddle a kind of pseudo-journalism: Opinion, ideological cant, and outright speculation clothed in rhetorical garments that imply a solid factual basis and an unassailable level of certainty. Their pronouncements may be entertaining, he admits, but we mistake them for reality at our peril. Alterman traces the rise of the punditocracy from Walter Lippman in the 1930s to the likes of George Will, Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, and others in the early 1990s. His principal concern, however, is to show that the emperor has no clothes. He does this by dissecting the prejudices, ideological hobby-horses, journalistic skills, and track record of a dozen or so key members of the punditocracy--skewering them with scrupulously cited quotations from their own work. This approach reaches its zenith in the final chapters, where he analyzes conservative pundits' steadfast refusal to come to grips with the fall of the USSR, and lambastes pundits of all political persuasions for mindlessly beating the drums of war after the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The fact that the first edition of the book (the one I read) ends on those notes reflects the extent to which the now-available revised edition had become necessary. When Alternan first wrote, conservative talk radio had just begun its ascendancy, Bill Clinton was unimpeached, George W. Bush was a marginally well-known governor, and the Twin Towers still stood. We've come a long way since 1993, yet (to judge by the undiminished power of the punditocracy) we've come no way at all.
Sound and fury: the making of the punditocracyUser Review - Book Verdict
This is a revised and expanded version of a 1993 book in which Nation columnist Alterman lamented the decline of political discourse in America and blamed its sorry state on the rise of political pundits--those talking heads and self-proclaimed experts who appear on television so frequently. We now live in a Punditocracy, Alterman wrote; our very democracy is "imperiled by the decrepit state of our national public discourse." This edition has been revised to reflect the changes in that discourse over the past six years--especially the Clinton era explosion of punditry and the rise of cable television wonks. Alterman still tends toward hyperbole and overstatement, but he nonetheless astutely points a finger at the superficial, vitriolic state of American political discussion and seeks to revive enlightened discussion in public discourse. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles ...
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Sound and Fury: The Washington Punditocracy and the Collapse of American ...
No preview available - 1992