Megan Harlan
February 23, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Hot Air: All Talk, All the Time

Current Status
In Season
Howard Kurtz
Times Books
Pop Culture, Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

Howard Kurtz, a media reporter for The Washington Post and former panelist on CNN’s Reliable Sources, knows just how a talk-show gig can seduce a respected journalist; he has abandoned, for ethical reasons, his own career as talking head. His experience colors Hot Air: All Talk, All the Time, an exuberant indictment of talk-show culture, which offers behind-the-scenes critiques of more than a dozen programs that span the genre — from The McLaughlin Group to Oprah to Nightline to ”hate radio.” The shouting matches between journalists and pundits on political talk shows increasingly resemble those of feuding families on Ricki Lake or on Jenny Jones — and are often equally unintelligent and, as Kurtz’s well-documented analysis demonstrates, surprisingly uninformed. Alongside cogent arguments about the dangers of merging news, entertainment, and political criticism, Kurtz includes candid discussions with talk-show hosts and panelists. A-

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