Review: “Toxic Talk: How the Radical Right has Poisoned America’s Airwaves” by Bill Press. (Thomas Dunne Books, 2010).
“Bill Press is host of the nationally syndicated Bill Press Show, also on Sirius XM, and writes a syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. He is the former co-host of MSNBC’s Buchanan and Press and CNN’s Crossfire and The Spin Room. Press lives in Washington, D.C.”
I wasn’t familiar with Bill Press, though I’m certain I’ve seen him as a “talking head” on television at some point. I snagged this book from the “new arrivals” section at the library, and figured I was due for a primer on Conservative “talk radio”.
Despite the seemingly inescapable derisory tone of pundits (the author of this book being one of this pundits), the book is a good overview of the major personalities and events that have led to the astonishing dominance of the talk-radio landscape by Conservative blowhards large and small. I found the book highly informative and useful, even while wishing the author weren’t such a talk personality himself. On the up side, however, we are hearing from a man who’s been in the business and has worked with more than a few of the people he profiles.
The book gives us a history of the talk radio revolution, and then breaks out into mini-biographies of the players in Conservative talk, including second- and third-tier personalities. (Fox News is not left out of the discussion, of course).
The tone of the book aside, Press cites reliable sources for some great debunking of the many whoppers told by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the others (a practice that would be much more fun to read were the lies not so disturbing).
“Toxic Talk” is a light read, and breezes by pretty fast. Part of why I wanted to read it is that it’s been dawning on me that many of the people I engage in debate are carrying around crazy ideas that I have been slow to appreciate. Understanding that these ideas are out there and knowing where they are coming from is just plain good information to have!