A troubling look inside an enterprise as vicious and internecine as a soap opera.

TOP OF THE MORNING

INSIDE THE CUTTHROAT WORLD OF MORNING TV

A chronicle of the recent nasty struggles within and between Today and Good Morning America.

When New York Times media reporter journalist Stelter began his research, Today was nearing the end of its incredible run of well over 800 consecutive weeks as the No. 1 morning talk/news show. By the end, GMA had toppled Today, a show that one waggish GMA staffer quipped should be renamed Yesterday. The story commences with the decision of producer Jim Bell to remove struggling co-host Ann Curry from Today. As that story unfolds, Stelter periodically returns us to the earliest days of Today (1952: with Dave Garroway and chimp J. Fred Muggs) and to the beginnings of GMA in 1975. We learn about most of the previous hosts, the struggles within GMA to find an identity and the arrogance of Today’s production team—the we’ll-always-be-No. 1 mentality. Stelter also visits the histories of the CBS entry (never a threat—not so far) and to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, which the author clearly likes. But the focus throughout is on this past year: Matt Lauer’s gifts (and contracts), Curry’s problems with informal chitchat, Robin Roberts’ battles with cancer (struggles that ABC milked for ratings), the supreme talents of Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira, and the arrival of the talented Savannah Guthrie and its failure to stem the GMA tide. By the end, Bell is out as Today producer, GMA seems firmly in charge of the No. 1 spot, George Stephanopoulos and the GMA crew are all but singing “We Are Family,” Lauer is suffering from attacks on social media, and Today is hiring “branding” consultants to see what they can do about their fall from the top spot.

A troubling look inside an enterprise as vicious and internecine as a soap opera.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4555-1287-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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