The Last Debate: A Novel of Politics and Journalism [NOOK Book]


sharp satire of the presidential debate that changes the course of electoral politics (and the news business) forever--by Jim Lehrer, who has been a moderator of past presidential debates. The targets of this satire--religious fundamentalists, political handlers, self-important journalists, feral network programming heads--could not be more timely.

A sharp satire of the presidential debate that changes the course of electoral politics (and the news business) ...

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The Last Debate: A Novel of Politics and Journalism

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sharp satire of the presidential debate that changes the course of electoral politics (and the news business) forever--by Jim Lehrer, who has been a moderator of past presidential debates. The targets of this satire--religious fundamentalists, political handlers, self-important journalists, feral network programming heads--could not be more timely.

A sharp satire of the presidential debate that changes the course of electoral politics (and the news business) forever--by Jim Lehrer, who has been a moderator of past presidential debates. The targets of this satire--religious fundamentalists, political handlers, self-important journalists, feral network programming heads--could not be more timely.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Taking journalistic activism to unprecedented new heights, the media figures at the heart of this ingratiating post-Clinton political satire overtly change the course of a presidential election. At Williamsburg, Va., a few weeks before election day, Bible-quoting, media-savvy Republican David Donald Meredith will debate an all-but-defeated Democratic challenger. But newspaperman Michael J. Howley, the debate moderator, and the panel of questioning journalists so fear the consequences of Meredith's impending presidency that they conspire to ruin him by dispensing with the set debate format and ambushing Meredith with damning, unpublished documents in Howley's possession. After the debate, the panel members become controversial media superstars. The tale is told by magazine reporter Thomas Chapman, who notes that he has adopted the narrative form called ``Journalism as Novel.'' Lehrer (Fine Lines) writes suspensefully in the persona of Chapman, as the reporter traces leads and slowly unravels the mysteries of how this historic event came to pass. But several questions are never satisfactorily answered, most importantly: Why couldn't Howley simply report his allegations rather than scrap a long-held journalistic code? While the extensive media critique is not as penetrating as one might hope, Lehrer's experience and inside knowledge allow him to point out some thought-provoking contradictions in the contemporary news business, and his story is a page-turner. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Four journalists are scheduled to moderate a debate between two presidential candidates. The Republican is a born-again racist, while the Democrat is not too swift but a decent fellow. The journalists decide to torpedo the Republican by bringing up his background of abuse and violence. The television presentation goes off the wall with the Republican going berserk, using the "f-word," and more. When he loses the election, the journalists are rocketed to fame and notoriety. After a pokey start, this novel takes off and becomes a masterful study of journalism, politics, the media, ethics, and the human condition prevailing in spite of everything. This provocative book by Lehrer, a famed television journalist and author of Blue Hearts (Random, 1993), is recommended for most public libraries.-Robert H. Donahugh, formerly with Youngstown & Mahoning Cty. P.L., Ohio
Thomas Gaughan
Lehrer, the likable, reasonable coanchor of the "McNeill/Lehrer Newshour", departs from the charming, bittersweet eccentricities of his One-Eyed Mack novels to deliver a withering and pained satire of American presidential politics and the tabloidization of the news media. The journalists selected to question a weak, colorless Democrat and a mediagenic but frightening Republican during a televised presidential debate throw the election to the Democrat by airing the Republican's remarkably dirty laundry. In so doing, they change politics and journalism forever. To some readers, satire connotes a satirist gleefully skewering the targets of his or her ridicule. But other than the fact that Lehrer has named three of his characters--three top decision makers in journalism--after former pro football players, there's little glee evident in this book. Lehrer seems heartsick at the state of politics, at the primacy of junkyard-dog political handlers, and especially at the demise of responsible journalism and the rise of "food fights" (e.g., "The McLaughlin Group"). Don't misunderstand: "The Last Debate" is a page-turner and a terrific read, but here's hoping Lehrer soon returns to the winsome Oklahoma of the One-Eyed Mack.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307824455
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/7/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,356,907
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer began his career as a newspaper reporter, political columnist, and editor in Dallas, Texas. Since 1975, he has been a news anchor at PBS, where he is currently the anchor and executive director of "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." Lehrer has won numerous awards for journalism, including most recently the 1999 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton. He is the author of White Widow, currently available in paperback from PublicAffairs, and many other novels, most recently The Special Prisoner (ISBN 0375503714). He lives with his wife, Kate, in Washington, D.C.


Jim Lehrer didn't always aspire to be a writer -- when he was 16, he wanted to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Since he wasn't a very good baseball player, he turned to sports writing, then writing in general. As a member of what he's called "the Hemingway generation," he decided to support himself as a newspaper writer until he could make a living as a novelist.

After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism, Lehrer served for three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, then began his career as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor in Dallas. His first novel, about a band of Mexican soldiers re-taking the Alamo, was published in 1966 and made into a movie. Lehrer quit his newspaper job in order to write more books, but was lured back into reporting after he accepted a part-time consulting job at the Dallas public television station. He was eventually made host and editor of a nightly news program at the station.

Lehrer then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as public affairs coordinator for PBS and as a correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT). At NPACT, Lehrer teamed up with Robert MacNeil to provide live coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings, broadcast on PBS. It was the beginning of a partnership that would last more than 20 years, as Lehrer and MacNeil co-hosted The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (originally The Robert MacNeil Report) from 1976 to 1983, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from 1983 to 1995. In 1995, MacNeil left the show, but Lehrer soldiered on as solo anchor and executive editor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

When he wasn't busy hosting the country's first hour-long news program, Lehrer wrote and published books, including a series of mystery novels featuring his fictional lieutenant governor, One-Eyed Mack, and a political satire, The Last Debate. Lehrer surprised critics and won new readers with his breakout success, White Widow, the "tender and tragic" (Washington Post) tale of a small-town Texas bus driver. He followed it with the bestselling Purple Dots, a "high-spirited Beltway romp" (The New York Times Book Review), and The Special Prisoner, about a WWII bomber pilot whose brutal experiences in a Japanese P.O.W. camp come back to haunt him 50 years later. His recent novel No Certain Rest recounts the quest of a U.S. Parks Department archaeologist to solve a murder committed during the Civil War.

Across this wide range of subjects, Lehrer is known for his careful plotting and even more careful research. Clearly, this is a man who cares about good stories -- but which is more important to him, journalism or fiction? Lehrer once admitted that he's known as "the TV guy who also writes books. Someday, maybe it will go the other way and I'll be the novelist who also does television."

Good To Know

During the last four presidential elections, Lehrer has served as a moderator for nine debates, including all three of the presidential candidates' debates in 2000. He also hosted the Emmy Award-nominated program "Debating Our Destiny: Forty Years of Presidential Debates."

Lehrer lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, novelist Kate Lehrer. The two also have an 18th-century farmhouse close to the Antietam battle site. Visits to the site helped inspire Lehrer's thirteenth novel, No Certain Rest.

Robert MacNeil, for many years the co-host with Jim Lehrer of PBS's MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, is also a novelist. His books include Burden of Desire, The Voyage and Breaking News.

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    1. Also Known As:
      James Lehrer
    2. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 19, 1934
    2. Place of Birth:
      Wichita, Kansas
    1. Education:
      A.A., Victoria College; B.J., University of Missouri, 1956

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