What I’ve Been Reading: Top of the Morning

What I’ve Been Reading: Top of the Morning


May 8, 2018

I haven’t posted one of these in a while, but I had a chance to finish Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter recently. Top of the Morning tells the story of the race for domination – or at least a solid lead – in Nielsen ratings for morning shows. It mainly focuses on Today and Good Morning America, and I never realized before reading that Today held such a commanding lead in the ratings for 16 straight years. A large chunk of the book is dedicated to discussing the awkward transition from Ann Curry to Savannah Guthrie, as well as the audience’s growing frustrating aimed at Matt Lauer – and that was before Lauer’s sexual harassment stuff came to light. Meanwhile, Good Morning America‘s struggles were outlined over the years, but Stelter’s treatment of the likes of Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos is almost fawning. I can’t tell if Stelter had a bone to pick with Today or if he was just being a straight shooter, but the modern GMA lineup could do almost nothing wrong.

I’ve never been a morning show enthusiast by any stretch of the imagination, and usually it’s just background noise to me, if it’s on the television at all. Before I started reading the book, I couldn’t have even told you whether Lauer was on Today or GMA. But I am interested in underdog stories and seeing how people succeed when not as much is expected of them. It was interesting to me that two of the major players in GMA‘s turnaround were not traditional reporter types, while Today employed people who were always in front of the camera reporting news. Robin Roberts was a renowned basketball player and then worked at ESPN, while Stephanopoulos was in the political realm before taking the full-time TV gig. Sometimes, maybe there’s an advantage to being an outsider.

Other books I’m reading right now:

7 comments

  1. Comments: 7
    Joined: 12/17/2015
    Gobluex2
    May 08, 2018 at 2:25 PM

    Related to the fact that you’re reading 1984…I’m reading Thomas Ricks’ Churchill and Orwell – The Fight for Freedom.

    A concise, well-written dual biography of two of the 20th century’s most influential men who fought for individual freedom. Churchill may have very well saved Western society from fascism. Orwell’s ideas and writings are as relevant today as ever before.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2541
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 09, 2018 at 8:45 PM

      Very interesting. I didn’t know the two were connected enough to have a book written about both of them at once.

  2. Comments: 1166
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    May 09, 2018 at 6:59 AM

    “The Outlaw Trail: A History Of Butch Cassidy And His Wild Bunch” and “In Search Of Butch Cassidy”.

    Easy, fun sort of western escapism. Might have been two Butch Cassidys … Who knew?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2541
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 09, 2018 at 8:43 PM

      Two Butch Cassidys? Like two guys pretending to be the same guy? Or two outlaws who just happened to have the same name?

      • Comments: 1166
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        May 10, 2018 at 7:00 AM

        It gets complex.

        “In Search of Butch Casidy” was written 25-30 years ago. Larry Pointer, the author was inspired to do the book and used as foundation research an “abridged” copy of the famed book “The Bandit Invincible” by one “William T. Phillips. Pointer became convinced that Phillips was Cassidy. Pointer subsequently obtained possession of an “original manuscript” of “The Bandit Invincible” and has subsequently decided that Phillips was an associate of Cassidy’s who did jobs in addition to the known work of Butch and Sundance that Cassidy could not possibly have taken part in as he was operating in South America at the time, and is not Butch Cassidy himself.

        So, I’m reading the two listed above, the I’ll do “Butch Cassidy My Brother. Then I’ll finish with Pointer’s last book which includes this new version of “The Bandit Invincible” in it’s entirety. I’ll then add it all into my vast collection of stuff that I can go on and on and on about … while drinking.

        As an aside there is a book presently offered on amazon titled “Bandit Invincible”. it is a novel, recently written. It may well be very good and researched, but is not the Phillips book.

  3. Comments: 1166
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    May 09, 2018 at 7:00 AM

    Why read 1984?

    You’re living it.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2541
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 09, 2018 at 8:44 PM

      Yeah, I’m trying to note exactly how much Orwell got right, and how much he got wrong. He’s pretty good at predicting the world we live in.

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