A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Six big books out this week
Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” sequel “The Testaments” hits bookshelves on Tuesday. So do five nonfiction books that are generating lots of reporting and reviews, deservedly so:
– Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s “She Said,” about Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo
– James Poniewozik’s “Audience of One,” about Trump and television
– Garrett Graff’s “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11”
– Neil Gorsuch’s “A Republic, If You Can Keep It”
– Malcolm Gladwell’s “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know”
Reviewers are saying you should run, not walk, to read “She Said.” The book is coming out ahead of the two-year anniversary of Twohey and Kantor’s original story about Harvey Weinstein’s abuses. By documenting “the obstacles that Weinstein, his attorneys, corporate culture and the legal system threw in their way,” the book becomes “an instant classic of investigative journalism,” WaPo book critic Carlos Lozada writes. “The book is packed with reluctant sources, emotional interviews, clandestine meetings, impatient editors, secret documents, late-night door knocks, toady lawyers and showdowns with Weinstein himself. The cumulative effect is almost cinematic, a sort of ‘All the President’s Men’ for the Me Too era, except the men are women, and they don’t protect the boss, they take him down.”
>> There’s a lot of news in this book. Even a new interview with Christine Blasey Ford. The NYT’s Alexandra Alter has a recap here…
>> Kantor and Twohey were on “CBS Sunday Morning”
Here’s an exclusive excerpt from “She Said”
The book details all of the ways Weinstein tried to derail and delay the NYT’s investigation. Here’s an example, quoting from the book:
Weinstein’s voice surged through the speaker again. “If the timing isn’t good, then we will cooperate with someone else,” he threatened, reading the journalists’ fears that he would hang up from the call and go straight to another outlet with a softened, distorted version of the story.
“I’m not a saint,” Weinstein said, “but I’m not the sinner you think I am.”
Weinstein launched into a lecture about journalism.
“Get the facts right,” he said. “We’ll help you get the facts right. If I wasn’t making movies, I would’ve been a journalist. I read every book on the New York Times, every book about journalism, and I read every newspaper and magazine. The journalists that impress me the most are the ones who go out of their way to be fair.”
Weinstein went on. “When you were kids you grew up to tell the right story, to tell the truth,” he continued. “You weren’t about deadlines. You wanted to tell the truth. If you mess up and you don’t tell the truth, and you write just to write, how do you look yourself in the eye?”
Trump and TV: “It’s irresistible”
In “Audience of One,” TV critic James Poniewozik imagines what it’s like for Trump, a TV junkie, to be the star of a 24/7 TV drama. If you ask me, this dynamic is key to understanding what’s happened in the past few years.
Poniewozik joined me on Sunday for his first TV interview about the book… He pointed out that Trump has always been an “avid consumer” of media, and through the election, he became both consumer and star. “People are always talking about you and what you are doing, what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling and what you just tweeted and what people said about the tweet and what you tweeted in response to the tweet. It’s you you you you you. All the time. Why would you ever do anything else?” In other words, why would you ever turn off the TV? “It’s irresistible,” Poniewozik said. And, I would add,harmful to his presidency…
>> Here are some other takeaways from the interview, via Katie Pellico…
Six months since…
The White House press secretary has not held an on-camera briefing since March 11. This Wednesday will be the six-month mark of the drought. Stephanie Grisham, who became press secretary in late June, has signaled that the resumption of briefings is really Trump’s call. In the meantime, Julie Roginsky commented on “Reliable Sources,” Grisham has been putting out “propaganda pieces” via social media. The lack of briefings is “unacceptable,” Roginsky said…
The Atlantic’s new cover
This has all the makings of a must-read: The Atlantic’s October cover story, titled “Succession,” is a “deeply reported inside look by politics writer McKay Coppins at the fight among the Trump children – namely Ivanka and Don Jr. – to succeed their father,” the magazine says. “Through dozens of interviews with White House officials, campaign staffers, and sources close to the Trump family, McKay reports on the internal power struggle…” And it will be online Monday morning…
Week ahead calendar
Monday: “The Kelly Clarkson Show” and “Tamron Hall” have their series premieres and Billy Bush debuts as the new host of “Extra…”
Monday evening: Trump holds a rally in North Carolina…
Tuesday: Apple’s product launch event in Cupertino… Here’s what to expect…
Thursday: The Online News Association kicks off its 20th anniversary conference…
Thursday night: The next #DemDebate…
Friday: “Hustlers” and “The Goldfinch” open wide…
Lowry recommends these two new documentaries
Brian Lowry writes: Two notable documentaries to put on the radar this week, both premiering on Tuesday: “Flint’s Deadly Water,” a “Frontline” examination about the roots and impact of the city’s water crisis; and “Rodman: For Better or Worse,” a look at how colorful former NBA star Dennis Rodman transformed himself into a media superstar (and improbable advocate for Kim Jong Un), the latest entry under ESPN’s “30 for 30” banner…
ABC and Univision will host the cycle’s third Dem presidential primary debate on Thursday evening. This will be the first time that all the top-tier candidates debate on stage together, since only ten candidates qualified. However, it looks like the fourth debate… coming up in October, host TBA… will return to the two-night format, now that Tom Steyer has qualified for October.
Per Axios, “11 candidates have now qualified for the October debates, meaning they will likely take place over the course of 2 nights. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is one poll away from qualifying…”
Fox’s hypocrisy while covering Biden’s flubs and falsehoods
Hosts and guests on Fox News have been questioning Joe Biden’s “senility” and capacity for the job of president. Biden certainly has been making many missteps… and I think his flubs and falsehoods are inherently newsworthy… but it’s striking to see Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume talking about Biden’s screw-ups while side-stepping Trump’s.
On “Reliable,” I showed a montage of the comments on Fox, and former Fox contributor Julie Roginsky observed that “everything that Sean Hannity and everyone else has said about Biden applies to Trump times a thousand. And yet, that’s never pointed out…”
FOR THE RECORD
– You heard it here first: On Monday Yahoo Finance is announcing the hiring of award-winning journalist Janna Herron to lead its personal finance coverage…
– Marc Tracy’s latest is about the outstanding U.S.C. Beacon Project: “Students at the University of Southern California got a crash course in investigative journalism this summer by reporting on a powerful, scandal-ridden institution: their own school…” (NYT)
– Sarah Ellison is out with a new profile of Lester Holt… (WaPo)