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All the Truth Is Out

The Week Politics Went Tabloid

By Matt Bai
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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All the Truth Is Out by Matt Bai
Synopsis

All The Truth is Out details the sudden transformation of political journalism in the late 1980s, as political reporters shifted their focus from policy to the personal lives of politicians. Using the rise and fall of former presidential hopeful Gary Hart as a starting point, it shows how political journalism and politics in general have changed both in form and content.

Key idea 1 of 10

Gary Hart was one of the most exciting and intelligent presidential candidates of his generation.

Politicians didn’t always enjoy the rock-star celebrity status that they do today. Before Barack Obama, before Bill Clinton there was Gary Hart, the Democratic presidential candidate who ran for office in 1984 and 1987.

Hart was a special breed of politician whose rise to stardom coincided with a need for political reform. He formally entered the political arena a US senator from Colorado with a strong academic pedigree, and came from a strong Christian upbringing, which inspired him to earn a degree from Yale Divinity School before doing the same at Yale Law.

According to the author, Hart possessed a unique and sharply-honed intellect – one that was different from Newt Gingrich’s abilities to recall entire libraries of philosophical texts verbatim, for example, or from Clinton’s quirky ability to discuss policy while simultaneously solving a crossword puzzle.

Hart’s prodigious intellectual gift was his ability to mix theology and technology with history, culture and politics – to broaden the scope, assimilating all available areas of knowledge and paint a bigger picture of what needs to be done extemporaneously.

Further adding to his credibility, Hart had an uncanny ability to “peer into the future” of policy and politics.

This gift was so well-known that it even earned its own name in Richard Ben Cramer’s 1992 book on the 1988 presidential election, What it Takes. Cramer called Hart’s prophetic quips “Hart Facts.”

For example, in 2002 Hart predicted that the United States would engage Iraq militarily, that it would prove to be a catastrophe America would struggle to end and which would further exacerbate terrorism. Does that ring any bells?

He also remarked that growing inequality and market recklessness were bound to lead to a depression. Surely enough, we are still recovering from the Great Recession of 2008 to this day.

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