Prime Times, Bad

Ed Joyce, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (561p) ISBN 978-0-385-23923-3
In 1986, after almost 30 years at CBS, the author was dismissed from the presidency of CBS News when Van Gordon Sauterhis direct superior, longtime colleague and sometime friendteamed up with anchorman Dan Rather to cast him as the scapegoat for the news division's problems. Joyce recounts that painful experience, but not until he has described his entire career in more detail than most readers will want. Still, it's a fascinating look at how news organizations work, and it's only the blow-by-blow account of recent yearswhen Rather, whom Joyce describes as ""constantly inventing who he is or what he is,'' comes to the forethat will deservedly shake readers' faith in television journalism. The familiar weaknesses of the executive memoir are here: decades-old conversations rendered in impossible detail; wooden dialogue that unnaturally puts background information into speech. But Joyce admirably restrains himself from overstating his case, and his characterizations of individuals who at one time or another sided against him will ring true with readers familiar with their representations onscreen and in the press. His is finally a sad tale, not only because of his fate as a result of the ``nervous breakdown'' of CBS, but also because of the sorry state of big-time, big-money broadcast news. CBS-bashing may be in vogue, but to a great extent it is also in order. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988
Release date: 04/01/1988
Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-385-26102-9
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