Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy

Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy

Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy

Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy

Synopsis

For this new edition, Eric Alterman has made revisions throughout the book, with new material on the impact of the O. J. Simpson trial and the rise of MSNBC as well as on the Clinton scandals, the media's obsession with Monica Lewinsky, and the resulting conflation of investigative reporting with gossip.

Excerpt

On what forecasters like to call “an unseasonably warm” February morning in 1990, my friend Loring and I rode the subway to the Capitol, where Vaclav Havel, the new president of Czechoslovakia, was to address a joint session of Congress. Our friend George had secured two guest passes for the occasion but misinformed me when I asked him whether I needed to wear a tie. I was therefore barred at the door until I managed to convince the head of security that a sports jacket and a beat-up old wool scarf worn as an ascot represented “formal deeplomatic vear in mine country.” Tragedy narrowly averted, we entered the chamber and took our seats with the senators and representatives.

Havel entered the hall to a thunderous standing ovation. It was quite a moment, and even the tough guys in the press gallery were fighting back tears. This modest, diminutive playwright, fresh from facing down the guns of the Soviet empire and leading his country in a democratic revolution, had been invited to share his wisdom in the hall that sits at the rhetorical center of what was now, undisputedly, the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Never in my adult life had I witnessed so unambiguous a victory for the forces of sweetness and light.

But for all the emotional power and moral uplift of the occasion, I still left the hall depressed. Havel was not exactly at his best, but he was still Vaclav Havel. He explored many of the great themes of personal and political responsibility with uncommon wit and originality and was cer-

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