Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

TV by the Books: Turn Up a Volume

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

TV by the Books: Turn Up a Volume

Article excerpt

JUST TEAR your eyes off the television screen for a moment and you'll find more books out there about TV than you can shake a clicker at.

Recent TV literature includes guilty pleasures like "My Life in High Heels," wherein Loni Anderson tells the world her "WKRP" co-star Gary Sandy was a real love machine. Yikes!

Or you can bury yourself in the official companion volume to "Friends," or the latest by America's Talking host E. Jean Carroll, frightfully called "A Dog in Heat Is a Hot Dog, and Other Rules to Live By."

Or you may choose to get a bit more serious with any of a half-dozen other new tomes.

Just in time for the presidential election season, for instance, three new books explore how TV affects (and sometimes hobbles) the process.

- "Hot Air: All Talk, All the Time" (Times Books) is an informed look at the different genres of blabber-casting, with chapters ranging from "Daytime Dysfunction" to "Toe to Toe With Ted" (that is, "Nightline's" Koppel).

Written by Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, "Hot Air" is anything but, as it builds a case for a growing dilemma.

"As the talk show culture has exploded," Kurtz notes, "the national conversation has been coarsened, cheapened, reduced to name-calling and finger-pointing and bumper-sticker sloganeering."

- Ah, yes.

With the current presidential race, nothing could be more timely than "Going Negative: How Political Advertisements Shrink and Polarize the Electorate" (Free Press).

The product of extensive research by political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar, "Going Negative" substantiates what too many of us feel on our own: Negative political advertising often wins over uncommitted voters . . . to None of the Above.

These nonpartisans, the authors write, "find politicians, politics and government distasteful; political advertising simply sounds like more of the same. …

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