Hot Air: All Talk, All the Time

By Howard Kurtz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
THE TALKATHON CULTURE

America is awash in talk. Loud talk. Angry talk. Conspiratorial talk. Raunchy talk, smug talk, self-serving talk, funny talk, rumor-mongering talk. A cacophony of chat fills the airwaves from coast to coast, from dawn to dusk and beyond, all talk all the time.

The richest and most prominent talkers include a wide assortment of pundits, commentators, experts, hacks, and hucksters, some of them cloaked in the thinnest journalistic garb. They analyze, interpret, elucidate, expound, pontificate, and predict, an unprecedented barrage of blather and bluster that has dramatically ratcheted up the noise level of political debate.

But many of the talkers are ordinary Americans, aggrieved, frustrated, flooding the switchboards of television and radio studios to register their dissent. Gradually, with little warning, this has produced a high-decibel revolution in the way we communicate with each other and with our leaders. We have become a talk show nation, pulsating with opinions that are channeled through hosts and reverberate through the vast echo chamber of the airwaves.

The Old Media -- the big newspapers, magazines, and network newscasts -- still cling to some vestige of objectivity, the traditional notion that information must be checked and verified and balanced with opposing views before it can be disseminated to the public. But the talk shows revel in their one-sided pugnacity, spreading wild theories, delicious gossip, and angry denunciations with gleeful abandon. Anyone can say anything at any time with little fear of

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Hot Air: All Talk, All the Time
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Contents Vii
  • Chapter One - The Talkathon Culture 3
  • Chapter Two - The Art of the Blurt 20
  • Chapter Three - Daytime Dysfunction 49
  • Chapter Four - The King of Schmooze 75
  • Chapter Five - Caught in the Crossfire 100
  • Chapter Six - Toe to Toe with Ted 126
  • Chapter Seven - Video Vérité 151
  • Chapter Eight - Sunday Ritual 171
  • Chapter Nine - Talking for Dollars 203
  • Chapter Ten - The Rush Hour 228
  • Chapter Eleven - Radio Rebels 256
  • Chapter Twelve - The Influence Game 289
  • Chapter Thirteen - Blurring the Lines 310
  • Chapter Fourteen - A Personal Odyssey 338
  • Chapter Fifteen - The Future of Talk 356
  • Afterword 374
  • Sources 391
  • Index 406
  • About the Author *
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