The Last Debate: A Novel of Politics and Journalism

The Last Debate: A Novel of Politics and Journalism

by Jim Lehrer
     
 

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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.

Overview

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.

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presidency that they conspire to ruin him by dispensing with the set debate format and ambushing Meredith with damning, unpublished documents in Howley's possession.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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307824455
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/07/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Washington, D.C.
Date of Birth:
May 19, 1934
Place of Birth:
Wichita, Kansas
Education:
A.A., Victoria College; B.J., University of Missouri, 1956

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