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Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants: The Looting of the News in a Time of Terror

Overview


Vanity Fair's famously acerbic cultural critic takes on the so-called news establishment—and dismembers the "news eunuchs" limb by limb. A hilarious work of fiendish wit and scathing relevance.

James Wolcott is fed up. Since 9/11, he's watched the gradual collapse of the U.S. news media. Once a tough, independent force, the fabled Fourth Estate has, in Wolcott's eyes, gotten down on their knees and taken dictation from George Bush.

Attack ...

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Overview


Vanity Fair's famously acerbic cultural critic takes on the so-called news establishment—and dismembers the "news eunuchs" limb by limb. A hilarious work of fiendish wit and scathing relevance.

James Wolcott is fed up. Since 9/11, he's watched the gradual collapse of the U.S. news media. Once a tough, independent force, the fabled Fourth Estate has, in Wolcott's eyes, gotten down on their knees and taken dictation from George Bush.

Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants is a barrage of verbal cluster bombs aimed at Fox News, "where diseased egos seek to shape the world in their image"; at MSNBC, "the shame of a nation"; at CNN, "the other shame of a nation"; at Roger Ailes, who turned anchormen in to "ventriloquist dummies'; at the out-of-control Geraldo Rivera ("Geraldo of Arabia"); and even at the heralded Thomas Friedman ("foreign policy's manic depressive indicator"). Wolcott watches the professional pundits at the game called spin, and maintains that we are all diminished by it.

Don't look for even-handedness here. This is a polemic and proud of it. Wolcott's book pokes, prods, and stirs up controversy. It annoys and teases. It also makes some serious points about the lamentable state of our news, and our nation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
James Wolcott is the supreme American cultural critic...He's sharply observant and vividly descriptive. His work has guts and soul.
Jacob Weisberg
Attack Poodles is irresistible political entertainment from and for the left. It is a true sadistic pleasure to watch Wolcott exact revenge for the hours he has wasted watching the likes of Joe Scarborough, Michael Savage and Chris Matthews. A skilled hit man, Wolcott sharpens his instruments and takes his time in setting up a kill.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
From cultural critic Wolcott (Vanity Fair; the New Yorker) comes an examination of the "infotainment" that he says now passes for political news. In an age brimming with 24-hour news channels, talk radio and the Internet, how is it, Wolcott asks, that Americans seem to be less informed than in the past? He points a finger at the rise of TV news personalities, or the "attack poodles," those ratings-hungry pundits, who, he says, are geared more toward quips, rants, profits and fame than to informing a democratic populace. Wolcott finds examples of the specimen in Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Chris Matthews, Dennis Miller and Bob Novak. Beneath Wolcott's humor and catchy prose, however, lurk some dark revelations, such as a Fox news staffer's claim that he and his colleagues are instructed to seek out stories that "cater to angry, middle-aged white men who listen to talk-radio and yell at their televisions." That strategy quickly took Fox News to the top of the heap and has left the other networks in a dizzying game of catchup that has set what Wolcott sees as a dismal, fractious tone for our national discourse. Intelligent, amusing and insightful, Wolcott's effort is still unlikely to approach sales anywhere close to those of books published recently by some of the "attack poodles" he criticizes. Agent, Elyse Cheney. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Critics of political pundits and cable news shows will be pleased to have another book challenging the conservative side of media bias. Wolcott, the cultural critic for Vanity Fair, labels and names several opinion journalists as "attack poodles." They are "right-wing hacks and liberalish enablers" who advance the cause of those in power. Primarily conservatives, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and Peggy Noonan are among the "alpha males" and "Malibu Barbies" accused of heightening public hysteria. Wolcott provides a 12-point program for prospective attack poodles. To become a celebrity journalist one must, among other things, abandon ideals, not let facts or truth get in the way, and learn to speak very loudly. Wolcott is a witty, passionate, and strident writer. While highly entertaining, he employs some of the same hatchet-job techniques for which he criticizes other journalists. This work joins the media bias argument on the same side as Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? and in opposition to Bernard Goldberg's Bias and L. Brent Bozell's Weapons of Mass Distortion. Academic and public libraries should buy for journalism collections.-Judy Solberg, George Washington Univ. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A bit of an attack dog himself, Vanity Fair cultural critic and novelist Wolcott (The Catsitters, 2001) hoists the gasbags of the mass media on their own petards. "Waking up with a fart after a half decade in hibernation," these standard bearers of the angry and the vexed are, in his view, the jingoists sowing the seeds of anxiety as if planting a field of wheat, the cheap melodramatists, the hacks and enablers, the sophists and Wee Willie Winkies of newsland. In other words, Limbaugh & Co., Matt Drudge and his Report (a "toxic dump site of Republican oppo research . . . where the mainstream media go to dip their bucket"), and Alan Keyes, of course, but not just such obvious targets. Wolcott also skewers the self-serving fabrications of Thomas "Give War a Chance" Friedman and his fellow New York Times star Judith Miller, leader of a one-woman crusade to wage war on Iraq. These members of the media elite have conveniently unplugged their bullshit detectors, the author notes, generously assuming that they even knew there was a socket to plug into. Wolcott casts his net so wide, it's a wonder he doesn't fall overboard. The critic likes the sound of his own voice, granted, but that voice is smart, skeptical, witty, and pugnacious in knowing that he has the facts-all neatly videotaped or preserved in print-on his side. While conducting a wicked knife job on Peggy Noonan ("God loves America, America loves God, America loves itself, Bush loves God and America, and Noonan loves God and America and Bush") and the sad case of comic scallywag turned "hipster-daddy superpatriot" Dennis Miller, Wolcott encourages an active response to the pod people. Fight the FCC, he urges; "quarantine falsifiers andplagiarists"; simply pushing a remote control button and making them disappear won't stop them. Forceful nay-saying, buttressed by a few sensible ideas on how to neutralize the nonsense-purveyers. Agent: Elyse Cheney
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565118652
  • Publisher: HighBridge Company
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 6 CDs, 7 hrs. 30 min.
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 4.88 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


JAMES WOLCOTT is the cultural critic for Vanity Fair. He has also been a staff writer at The Village Voice, Esquire, Harpers', and The New Yorker. He lives with his wife in New York City.
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