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One Scandalous Story: Clinton, Lewinsky, and Thirteen Days That Tarnished American Journalism

Kalb, Marvin L.

16 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0684859394 / ISBN 13: 9780684859392
Published by Free Press, Place_Pub: New York, 2001
Condition: Very good Hardcover
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

25 cm, 306 pages. Notes, index, slight wear to DJ edges, pencil erasure on front endpaper. Signed by the author. Kalb, currently at Harvard, has won two Peabody Prizes, the Edward R. Morrow Award, and other awards. Bookseller Inventory # 35191

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Bibliographic Details

Title: One Scandalous Story: Clinton, Lewinsky, and...

Publisher: Free Press, Place_Pub: New York

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very good

Dust Jacket Condition: very good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Printing.

About this title

Synopsis:

The author draws on his four decades of TV journalism experience to analyze media coverage of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, lending valuable historical and personal perspective the recent events, and past presidential pecadillos.

Review:

When Marvin Kalb was a CBS News correspondent in 1963, he had an opportunity to cover a presidential scandal. President John F. Kennedy was staying at a hotel in New York City when Kalb accidentally stepped into a private elevator and was thrown to the ground by a secret service agent. "I looked up just long enough to see the back of a woman with stunningly attractive legs entering the elevator," he recalls. She was on her way for a rendezvous with JFK. It was the scoop of a lifetime, except for one thing: Kalb didn't report it. "As I write about this incident more than thirty-seven years later, I am amazed not by my decision to do nothing but by the fact, quite undeniable, that never for one moment did I even consider pursuing and reporting what I had seen," he reflects.

That was another era, of course, and quite different from the one Bill Clinton found himself in at the start of the Monica Lewinsky ordeal. How that scandal went public--and the media's role in making it happen--is Kalb's controversial subject. "I decided to focus tightly on thirteen days of Washington coverage: the eight days leading up to the breaking of the story, the day it broke, and the next four days, when journalists focused on the scandal as if nothing else in the world mattered," he writes. The result was "journalism run amok." In One Scandalous Story, Kalb treats the whole episode with open scorn: "It took only a few days in January 1998 for journalists to realize that they were in uncharted waters. Faced by a scandalous story involving a president and an intern, a competitive twenty-four-hours-a-day news cycle, and a coldly demanding economic imperative, many found themselves violating just about every rule in the book." Kalb offers a detailed chronicle of how the scandal unfolded in the press, filling his tale with a cast of familiar characters, such as Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff (accused of an "unhealthy collaboration" with his sources) and Internet impresario Matt Drudge ("the young man with the Walter Winchell fedora, the cocked eyebrow, and the unshaven chin"). Yet these individuals, in Kalb's telling, were merely following the new economic imperatives of their industry, "one linked to titillation and profit." This resulted in "the most intrusive press invasion of presidential privacy in the history of the nation." Kalb focuses almost all of his fire at the media and largely refrains from criticizing Clinton's actions. No matter what one thinks of how a president ought to behave, though, it's hard to disagree that the media's own behavior might have been much improved during this unseemly episode in American political history. --John Miller

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