CNN’s photo-and-text account of the 2016 presidential election.
Appropriately oversized to embrace a larger-than-life, over-the-top story, this profusely illustrated, sometimes-insightful, blow-by-blow account captures all the highlights of the election year, from the primaries to the party conventions and debates to the election of Donald Trump. CNN politics writer Lake’s well-written narrative, interspersed with contributions by more than a dozen correspondents, analysts, and commentators, reflects the same “all in” approach the network took to its televised coverage. “One of the things we did was to ‘event-ize’ the major days and nights,” writes CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, with pride. “Whether it was a debate, a town hall, a primary night, or the conventions, our approach was the same. Cover them as big events to let the audience know they are important….That added a degree of energy and excitement to our programs, while never getting in the way of our news-gathering, our analysis, or our interviews.” The same hyperbolic view of a surreal election permeates these pages, which read like a graphic portrait of a major traffic accident rather than the “ultimate keepsake” (as described by the publisher) of an election to remember. Fully exploiting the event’s P.T. Barnum–esque aspects, the book offers few pleasing thoughts for remembrance: not Trump’s “blunt, bigoted language,” not Hillary Clinton’s “predilection for secrecy,” and not the other, dull members of the Republican primary field, who displayed “too much common decency.” The election, says CNN presidential historian David Brinkley, was “an overproduced race to the gutter.” Lake writes, “the media covered Trump relentlessly, because he was accessible, newsworthy and usually good for some outrage, which drove up clicks and ratings.” The most revealing moments are downers, as when Asian-American reporter M.J. Lee described the “off-color remarks” she encountered about her ethnicity when covering Trump rallies.
An early, vivid re-creation. Readers seeking great depth and understanding will have to look elsewhere.