Simpson, retiring this January after 18 years in the Senate, would, judging from this combative memoir-critique, probably...

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RIGHT IN THE OLD GAZOO: Observations from a Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press

Simpson, retiring this January after 18 years in the Senate, would, judging from this combative memoir-critique, probably agree with Oscar Wilde's bon mot, ""In the old days men had the rack; now they have the press."" At first, Simpson (R-Wyo.) basked in his reputation for hard work, plain speaking, shrewdness, and collegiality--all of which earned him a prized post as assistant Senate minority leader and a Washington Post headline as ""A Western Breeze Through a Stuffy Senate."" Before long, however, that image had degenerated into one of a thin-skinned poi ready to stick it at a moment's notice in the media's ""gazoo"" (a word he coined), and as a symbol of all the men who ""didn't get it"" when Anita Hill gave her controversial testimony about Clarence Thomas before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Yes, he is thin-skinned, Simpson admits, but so are the media. This style of rebuttal is not likely to convince those who disagree with his accusation that the press has increasingly adopted ""slanted, deceptive, and ruthlessly prosecutorial reporting,"" especially as evidenced in the Persian Gulf War, and, of course, the Thomas hearing. However, other aspects of Simpson's indictment of journalists cannot be dismissed, including their corrosive cynicism, reliance on polling, acceptance of large lecture fees from interest groups they may one day have to cover, use of anonymous sources, and intrusion into private lives. He makes even more telling points in writing that the Miami Herald crossed a dangerous line in snooping on Gary Hart and that only ""sedulous, spunkless, non-risktakers"" will now brave media fire to run for public office. Surely as biased toward the right as the media allegedly are toward the left--but for all that, this shoot-from-the-lip politico is on target in calling for greater press self-scrutiny.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996