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Poisoning the Pressby Mark Feldstein
Synopses & Reviews
It is March 1972, and the Nixon White House wants Jack Anderson dead.
The syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, the most famous and feared investigative reporter in the nation, has exposed yet another of the Presidents dirty secrets. Nixons operatives are ordered to “stop Anderson at all costs”—permanently. Across the street from the White House, they huddle in a hotel basement to conspire. Should they try “Aspirin Roulette” and break into Andersons home to plant a poisoned pill in one of his medicine bottles? Could they smear LSD on the journalists steering wheel, so that he would absorb it through his skin, lose control of his car, and crash? Or stage a routine-looking mugging, making Anderson appear to be one more fatal victim of Washingtons notorious street crime?
Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washingtons Scandal Culture recounts not only the disturbing story of an unprecedented White House conspiracy to assassinate a journalist, but also the larger tale of the bitter quarter-century battle between the postwar eras most embattled politician and its most reviled newsman. The struggle between Nixon and Anderson included bribery, blackmail, forgery, spying, and burglary as well as the White House murder plot. Their vendetta symbolized and accelerated the growing conflict between the government and the press, a clash that would long outlive both men.
Mark Feldstein traces the arc of this confrontation between a vindictive president and a flamboyant, crusading muckraker who rifled through garbage and swiped classified papers in pursuit of his prey—stoking the paranoia in Nixon that would ultimately lead to his ruin. The White House plot to poison Anderson, Feldstein argues, is a metaphor for the poisoned political atmosphere that would follow, and the toxic sensationalism that contaminates contemporary media discourse.
Melding history and biography, Poisoning the Press unearths significant new information from more than two hundred interviews and thousands of declassified documents and tapes. This is a chronicle of political intrigue and the true price of power for politicians and journalists alike. The result—Washingtons modern scandal culture—was Richard Nixons ultimate revenge.
"Feldstein, an award-winning journalist and professor at the University of Maryland, chronicles the controversial careers of two iconic figures, former president Richard Nixon and the investigative reported he feared most--Jack Anderson. With the astute analysis of a psychotherapist, Feldstein shows how the emotional and religious strengths, or flaws, of Nixon, the over-ambitious Quaker politician, and Anderson, the pious Mormon scribe, play out in a three-decade-long game to win over American public opinion. Whether Nixon was engineering a homosexual smear through wiretaps and doctored photos or the muckraking columnist was probing the Republican's hidden slush funds and numerous scandals, the book chronicles a slew of wrongdoings worthy of a sleazy pulp bestseller. Neither man escapes unscathed: Nixon, the schizoid schemer, or Anderson, the self-righteous campaigner. Brutal, brilliant, and gripping, this dark parable of tainted Beltway politics and an overreaching media lays the groundwork for the current cultural stench of celebrity exposes and bed-hopping lawmakers. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
A Washington Post Best Book of 2010
A Denver Post Best Book of 2010
A Kansas City Star Best Book of 2010
Poisoning the Press recounts the bitter quarter-century battle between the postwar eras most contentious politician and its most reviled newsman. The struggle between Richard Nixon and Jack Anderson included bribery, blackmail, burglary, spying, and sexual smears—even a White House plot to assassinate Anderson. In this riveting, real-life political drama, Mark Feldstein traces the arc of this confrontation between a vindictive president and a flamboyantly crusading muckraker. Their vendetta at once symbolized and accelerated the growing conflict between the government and the press, a clash that would long outlive both men. Brilliant, captivating, and darkly comedic, Poisoning the Press is “an absolutely essential book for anyone interested in American political history” (NPR).
About the Author
Mark Feldstein teaches media and public affairs at George Washington University. He has worked for nearly twenty years as an on-air correspondent at CNN, ABC, and NBC, and is a two-time winner of the George Foster Peabody public-service award.
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