Book Review: Attack Poodles
Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants, the Looting of the News in a A Time of Terror
2004, Miramax Books
James Wolcott, like Bob Somerby, is a strange creature: both of them are able to withstand seemingly limitless exposure to Fox News and fully keep their mental health. Were this reviewer to attempt even two daily hours of Fox News stark raving insanity would immediately ensue, but Wolcott and Somerby go through it annually will no ill effects. Remarkable.
Wisdom from the famous author Tom Robbins irrevocably comes to mind after reading Attack Poodles: to become defeatist, cynical, and depressed over the human condition is the easier, softer way. The real trick to a successful life, Robbins says, is to fully live in the reality of human shortcomings but yet still be optimistic and deliberately funny about it all. A light heart is a ticket to eternal life in Jitterbug Perfume.
If that’s true then Wolcott is indeed headed for eternity, able to endlessly digest the lying, harping, sycophantic chattering of the US journalism corps “conservative” pundits yet able to chronicle their absurdity with a razor sense of humor and total mastery of the English language.
If one thinks they’re a writer or would like to become a good one, Attack Poodles is simply a must read just for the diction skills alone. Wolcott is one of the great masters of alliteration and many of the sentences are sparkling jewels of the writer’s craft.
Scarborough, Friedman, O’Reilly, Charen, Coulter, Savage, Miller, Limbaugh, Williams, Novak, Crowley, Noonan, Frum, Sullivan, Miller, Brooks, Boot, and Keyes are simply crushed by Wolcott in viciously funny, devastatingly detailed paragraphs that totally expose their utter imbecility in even calling themselves journalists.
Their behavior in the run-up to the Iraq war and the pathetic, hilarious adventure of MSNBC to somehow position itself as a conservative alternative to Fox are great chapters too. Attack Poodles is a great relief from the mundane, stifling life of living under war criminals; what’s surprising is that more work like it has not been produced.
Attack Poodles was published before the election really got started; Wolcott at the time could see stirrings of the journalism corps trying to rouse itself from the stinking corpse it had become under Bush, but we all know what happened. The Swift Boat Vets, the CBS debacle, and a journalism corps shamefully on its knees after the second debate, ignoring the Bush lie never saying catching Osama wasn’t important and, incredibly, going with the story of how Dick Cheney was mad about Kerry calling his daughter a lesbian the next day. Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the lies starting the war, all were so much frippery in the journalism corps quest for the correct social admittance of lesbians.
Still, Wolcott did his very best to try and stop it all, and although of course he was ignored by the media whores he so masterfully skewered he still drew some very real blood. Although no Attack Poodle would ever admit it, some of them were made very uncomfortable by these pages, and one or two might give it up.
Not for being embarrassed, of course, for Attack Poodles truly have no shame, but for simply yapping for such a disastrous team for so long. If there is any message of hope from Attack Poodles it comes in the grim knowledge that the idiots who chatter so ceaselessly for Bush and GOP every day have hitched their souls and careers to lying war felons who care not a whit for them or their welfare (just ask Isikoff). Likely the Iraq war will bring the Bush administration utter ruin and damage that last decades, and all those who championed them will become pariahs.
A futile hope, perhaps, but a very real possibility. Thank you, Mr. Wolcott, for such a masterful job of writing, for taking down the charlatans of US journalism so well, and for the sliver of hope that retribution awaits the Attack Poodles. Surely no group of obnoxious fools deserves retribution more.