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The Powers That Be by David Halberstam
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The Powers That Be (original 1979; edition 2012)

by David Halberstam (Author)

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588925,463 (4.05)9
Member:abbot
Title:The Powers That Be
Authors:David Halberstam (Author)
Info:Open Road Media (2012), 963 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:new york times, los angeles times, time magazine, nonfiction, media, journalism, newsapers, politics

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The Powers That Be by David Halberstam (1979)

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  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
This is a long book for what it says. A mass of details were accumulated about people who are powers in the American Media, and discharged upon the public. There's not much analysis of the data, but it's quite a mine for later researchers. I also think the subject's egos were massaged a bit by their voluminous coverage. Readable, if you have the time at your disposal. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Apr 13, 2014 |
A daunting and somewhat overwhelming history of some of the media outlets that have shaped modern American history - CBS, Time, the LA Times, the NY Times, and the Washington Post. Some time has passed, and the relationship of the media is constantly in flux. Nevertheless, it is still extremely important to understand how much the media can influence a society's way of thinking and perception of events. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
One of the most important books covering individual media corporations. All are still around 30 years later and amazingly the 3 print publications are still...yes still IN PRINT. A must read for any who regularly read these publications or watch them on TV, or watch CBS. ( )
  carterchristian1 | Feb 25, 2012 |
The Powers That Be could have been titled The Road to Watergate. First published in the mid 1970s, it details the rise of four national media: Time, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and CBS television. The Powers That Be covers presidents from FDR to Nixon, showing how reporters, editors and anchormen moved from a mindset of belief to one of disbelief in official government sources.

Of the four media, I found the author’s writing about the Los Angeles Times most enlightening. Having read almost nothing of its history – I had no idea the Times, in essence, created Richard Nixon the politician with its fawning coverage of him and the unfair clobbering of his political foes.

Mr. Halberstam writes:

“The paper gave Nixon enormous leverage and clout at home, but it was not by any means the healthiest of relationships; it spared Nixon from the normal give-and-take of politics and journalism, it bred in this most fragile of egos a sense that he could attack others without being attacked in return; it allowed him to rise to higher and higher levels of politics without ever testing his ability to take the normal strain and criticism of politics. If known to journalists, would not be printed, and that finally, if journalists did write normal, balanced, tough-minded stories, they were virtually personal attacks.”

Based on hundreds of lengthy interviews with people who were in-the-know, The Powers That Be makes for fascinating reading about Murrow and his World War II reporting, the McCarthy era, Vietnam press coverage (the author himself reported from Vietnam for the New York Times ) and, of course, Watergate.

Reading The Powers That Be brought home the tragedy of David Halberstam’s death in 2007 – he really knew how to research a topic and bring it alive for readers. His writing – wordy, meandering sentences that “sound “ more like normal, if rambling, speech than journalistic writing – takes some getting used to. But once I got into its rhythm, I found it quite readable. Reading The Powers That Be also gave me a short list of people – including Theodore White, Fred Friendly and Scotty Reston – whom I’d like to read more about.

Some readers have criticized The Powers That Be for its lack of footnotes. That bothers me not much -- it demonstrates the difference between history written by a reporter and history written by academic historians. Anyone who reads its entire 700+ pages is probably smart enough to figure out whether the writing rings true. ( )
  NewsieQ | Jul 25, 2011 |
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A fascinating look into four American media giants, and their once-unparalleled control over society and policy Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam turns his investigative eye to the rise of the American media in the ambitious and incisive The Powers That Be. First published in 1979, Halberstam's impressive volume focuses on the successes and failures of CBS Television, Time magazine, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.By examining landmark events such as Franklin D. Roosevelt's masterful use of the radio and the unprecedented coverage of the Watergate break-in, Halberstam demonstrates how the media has shifted from simply reporting the news to making it. Drawn from hundreds of in-depth interviews with insiders at each company, and hailed by the Seattle Times as a monumental X-ray study of power," The Powers That Be blends political ambition and the quest for truth in a page-turning read.… (more)

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