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Sound and Fury: The Washington Punditocracy and the Collapse of American Politics

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Never in our history has the American political system seemed so aimless, so irrelevant, and so downright disgraceful as it does today. Television has become dominant to the point that it now not only serves as the sole viable medium for the debate of issues but has also provided the fodder for political platforms, and even budding presidential candidates. "Objective" reporting in the print media is political double-speak, but, even more important, it deprives us of the context that would allow us to make an ...
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1992 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Clean and tight-unused copy-Excellent! ! Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 352 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Hardcover New 0060168749 Hardcover; 1992, HarperCollins Publishers; 352 pages; "Sound and Fury: The Washington Punditocracy and the Collapse of American Politics, " by Eric ... Alterman. Read more Show Less

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Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. 1992 Hardcover New 0060168749. FLAWLESS COPY, BRAND NEW, PRISTINE, NEVER OPENED.

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Overview

Never in our history has the American political system seemed so aimless, so irrelevant, and so downright disgraceful as it does today. Television has become dominant to the point that it now not only serves as the sole viable medium for the debate of issues but has also provided the fodder for political platforms, and even budding presidential candidates. "Objective" reporting in the print media is political double-speak, but, even more important, it deprives us of the context that would allow us to make an informed judgment about a given issue. What we are left with, simply, is the punditocracy: the highly visible, extremely well-paid, and seemingly omnipresent pontificators who make their living offering "inside political opinions and forecasts" in the elite national media. It is their debate, rather than any semblance of a democratic one, that determines the parameters of political discourse in the nation today. 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? Sound and Fury opens with a historical overview of punditry, focusing on the greatest of all pundits, Walter Lippmann, avatar of punditry's Golden Age and as close to a philosopher as the popular media has ever produced. Tracing Lippmann's heirs, Alterman presents a series of portraits of the leading pundits of the Reagan/Bush years, a period when the profession came into its own - no more notably than in the person of the jaunty courtier George
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Editorial Reviews

Mary Carroll
For Alterman, the "decrepit state of our national political discourse" owes much to the simultaneous debasement of the quality and aggrandizement of the personalities of the "punditocracy": "a tiny group of highly visible political pontificators . . . in the elite national media." A bit player in print and electronic venues, Alterman analyzes journalism's "objectivity" standard; punditry in the days of Lippmann, Alsop, and Reston; and the disruptions--particularly the post-Vietnam collapse of the political center and rise of the New Right--and media trends that gave nonjournalists such as Will, Safire, and McLaughlin power to define acceptable political debate. Alterman dissects Will, the "McLaughlin Group" regulars, and the op-ed pages of the "New York Times", the "Washington Post", the "Wall Street Journal", and the "New Republic";also, he displays the punditocracy's misjudgments of Gorbachev, the end of the cold war, and the Persian Gulf War. Alterman sees the American obsession with "objective" news--i.e., facts without opinions--as giving the pundits' opinions-without-facts their power and argues that an engaged journalism placing its facts in context and acknowledging its biases could restore the citizenry's interest in, understanding of, and involvement with politics. A well-written, entertaining critique of an element of the Fourth Estate accountable to no one.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060168742
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 368

Meet the Author

Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman is Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and professor of journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of the bestseller What Liberal Media?
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