The Powers That Be

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The Powers That Be

By David Halberstam
Knopf, 1979
771 pp. $15.00
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In 1972 Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest significantly altered perceptions of the behavior of U.S. leaders in relation to the Vietnam War. This book attempts to do the same for an understanding of those who own, manage, and write and speak for the politically powerful news media. It is based on the same prodigiously extensive interviewing and effective use of anecdotes, and yet it is less successful because of the absence of a compelling, unifying theme beyond the incontestable assertion that the big media have altered the political system. The volume is really four books with chapters shuffled like a deck of cards: one suit for CBS, one for Time, one for the Washington Post, one for the Los Angeles Times (plus a single chapter-the wild card?-on The New York Times).

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