Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz has an article today - requires registration, and will probably charge after today or tomorrow - about books like Ricks' Fiasco and Trainor's Hubris, which build solid cases against the Bush administration and sell very well. I like how Kurtz shows the unique ability of a book to convey certain information. With the time it allows in writing and the space it allows in volume, books let these kind of muckraking journalists really build their argument, attaining solid sources and slowly going through the story at hand.
He quotes former Wall Street Journal columnist Ron Suskind:
"What you can do in a book that gets around the daily battle over news cycles is you can say to subjects that they will be rendered in context," he says. "Sources often say, 'This is a complex situation.' I can say back to them, 'I've got plenty of time.' " In a newspaper, he adds, "you're probably not going to have space to write thousands of words on some philosophical debate or longstanding internecine conflict."
Nice to see. And as the media continues to move quickly land then get called out for providing false information - just look at the confusing accounts of the plane accident in NYC last week - books will hopefully become all the more valid for just this reason:
Once books become fodder for the media machine, the carefully constructed 300-page arguments get boiled down to a handful of scooplets and anecdotes. But it is their accumulated detail and intellectual heft that embosses the books with credibility.