"In 1987, Gary Hart-articulate, dashing, refreshingly progressive-seemed a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination for president and led George H. W. Bush comfortably in the polls. And then- rumors of marital infidelity, an indelible photo of Hart and a model snapped near a fatefully named yacht ( Monkey Business ), and it all came crashing down in a blaze of flashbulbs, the birth of 24-hour news cycles, tabloid speculation, and late-night farce. Matt Bai shows how the Hart affair marked a crucial turning point in the ethos of political media-and, by extension, politics itself-when candidates' "character" began to draw more fixation than their political experience. Bai offers a poignant, highly original, and news-making reappraisal of Hart's fall from grace (and overlooked political legacy) as he makes the compelling case that this was the moment when the paradigm shifted-private lives became public, news became entertainment, and politics became the stuff of Page Six."
Preface: What It Took
Tilting Toward Culture Death
Follow Me Around
"I Do Not Think That's a Fair Question"
All the Truth Is Out
A Lesser Land.
"Before 1987, when front-running Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart was photographed on a yacht with a beautiful model sitting on his lap, such examples of womanizing had been overlooked by political reporters. Hart's fall from grace signaled massive change in the way that politicians would be covered, with more emphasis on moral character, fairly narrowly defined, and less on ideas and issues. National political columnist Bai (The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, 2007) examines how we've come to such trivial coverage of political candidates. Still maintaining a right to privacy while longing for elder-statesman status, Hart offered prescient predictions on issues from energy dependence to Islamic terrorism but couldn't see the changing trend in political news coverage. Bai ponders the influences of the Vietnam and Watergate era and the culture wars, which led to a new focus on personal morality, along with such changes in journalism as rising celebrity coverage and the 24-hour news cycle. Bai laments not only what the change in political reporting cost Hart personally but also what it has cost the nation.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2014 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Political columnist Bai (The Argument) makes a persuasive case for reexamining the career of presidential candidate Gary Hart, whose downfall in the wake of speculation about an extramarital affair, he argues, marks a turning point in the deterioration of American political journalism and democracy. Bai analyzes the forces coalescing around the scandal that brought down the Democratic frontrunner in May 1987, and captures those frenzied days in a masterfully written account. The possibility that a candidate might be lying about his sex life was not usually relevant, given the close relationship between major news outlets and politicians, but much had changed, especially given Watergate's influence on a generation of reporters. By the time allegations of adultery met Hart's campaign in New Hampshire, two previously separate streams, the tabloid press and political journalism, joined forces. The result has been "an unbridgeable divide... between our candidates and our media" and an accompanying lack of substance and transparency in the political process. Based on extensive interviews with reporters and campaign insiders, including Hart and Donna Rice (the then 29-year-old model photographed sitting on his lap), Bai appraises Hart the politician, political visionary, and high-minded yet obstinately private man, and asks what the country might have lost with his foreshortened career. This first-rate work of political journalism will fan embers long thought to have gone out. Photos. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved