Thursday, January 25, 2007

Duncan Black's Reading List for Understanding American Journamalism

So, what to read? In no way am I trying to come up with a comprehensive list, and certainly one could reach farther back in time. None of this stuff "begins" at a specific point in time, really. If not for the return of the Iran Contra crew I'd probably not even start until we get to Clinton, but it's probably necessary to reach back for a bit of a reminder. So, in rough order. First, the Reagan years. Haynes Johnson's book suffers from being boring, but it's a pretty good Reagan era primer, or at least I thought so a few years ago when I read it. Some of the general social critique I imagine is a bit dated. Hertsgaard's On Bended Knee (Tom Tomorrow just reminded me to include this). Next, Lawrence Walsh's book about Iran Contra. Next, Eric Alterman's history of the punditocracy. Then, Sidney Blumenthal's book The Clinton Wars, which I think is especially useful for its earlier chapters. Gene Lyons' Fools for Scandal. Conason & Lyons Hunting of the President. For the fictionalized version, Philip Roth's The Human Stain. David Brock's Blinded by the Right. The book that Josh Marshall never wrote about "Clinton hatred" in the 1990s. Marvin Kalb's One Scandalous Story. The book that Bob Somerby never published about the Gore campaign coverage, or just go read the Daily Howler archives. Toobin's Too Close to Call. Late edition - Johnson's The Big Chill. Alterman's What Liberal Media. David Brock's The Republican Noise Machine. Wolcott's Attack Poodles. Boehlert's Lapdogs. I haven't read any of the books about the press and the Iraq war coverage (aside from Boehlert's, which gives it some coverage), though I guess as a first stab I'd recommend Massing's articles in the NYRB. The Unseen War. Now They Tell Us. Unfit to Print. Iraq, the Press, and the Election. Obviously the point isn't that I agree with every idea or opinion expressed in these books, but they provide a rough narrative strand which certainly informs my view of recent history and the media and one which I think is, to a great degree, shared in the "netroots."

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