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Caveat lector

7 December 2001

Our current howler: Buy this!

Synopsis: Bill Press’ new book really starts to crackle—right around page 48.

Spin This!
Bill Press, Pocket Books, 2001

We’ve always had a thing for Bill Press, the insightful co-host of CNN’s Crossfire—even if Novak drove him into the ditch with a little demagogic car talk (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/24/99). Despite that small mishap, we’ve always seen Bill as the class of what we’ve long called the "Press" corps. Perhaps it was his ready wit. Perhaps it was his unblurred vision. Finally, we’re able to articulate the Bill Press Difference. For us, it all came clear as we perused his essential new book, Spin This!

Press’ argument is a bit slow to develop. But we felt he really hit his stride when he wrote this, on page 48:

PRESS: Fortunately, for those who have the time, there’s an excellent guide to journalistic spin. It’s called the Daily Howler ( Every day, editor Bob Somerby mercilessly punctures the spin of reporters, both print and broadcast. Nobody escapes. It’s an invaluable tool. If we could all read the Daily Howler every day after we read the morning paper or watch the evening news, we’d be a hell of a lot better informed—and a hell of a lot less confused.

After that, Spin This! peters out—but its nugget statement deserves repeating. Few have offered so trenchant a "take" on the state of our troubled western letters.

Press calls himself a "true American." To us, he lights a wider world. But whatever your views on Press may be, you’ll want to read and reread his page 48—a presentation the critics will poke at and ponder as long as the sophists rule Washington.

Note on our current intentions: We’ve been hard at work on our current effort—The Spinning of the President, Year 2000, in which we chronicle press coverage of the 2000 election. (And yes, it’s a jaw-dropping story.) In the process of that extensive labor, we’ve neglected the incomparable DAILY HOWLER. But a few silly stories have been piling up, ones we’ll look at in the next week. Continue to check this incomparable space. We think we owe it to one man—Bill Press.


The Daily update (12/7/01)

All of a sudden, we agree with his thesis: Howard Mortman found a problem with Press’ fine book. You know what to do. Just click here.