COOGANS BLUFF: Its all in the bookshelves – Wicked Local

Posted: May 13, 2020 at 5:45 am

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Watching some of televisions prominent news and entertainment personalities practicing social distancing, it is interesting to see how they look outside the studio.

As they broadcast from remote locations, their self-chosen home settings can tell a lot about them perhaps more than they would like. Clearly, in this pandemic, its a challenge to maintain glamour in the absence of make-up people and hair stylists. A lot of the normally attractive teleprompter readers now just look like anyone else you could be waking up next to in the morning. That sense of the ordinary can be seen in CNNs Chris Cuomo, isolated in his basement and wearing a sweatshirt, or Lady GaGa as she sings a fundraising song from her kitchen. I noticed she has the same toaster oven that I have.

NPR commentator Amy Walter has a book collection behind her, befitting her status as a news analyst. I could see No Ordinary Time, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and David Herberts biography of Abraham Lincoln. Her Monday night counterpart, Tamara Keith, chooses not to have any books displayed. Instead, she has certificates of achievement and posters behind her. Lisa Desjardins broadcasts from a stark living room no pictures on the wall, no books, and she is seated before a fireplace that looks as if it has never been lit. Theres a weird lamp behind her. White House beat reporter Yamiche Alcindor has Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me, prominently displayed face-out on a shelf above her. NPR news anchor Judy Woodruff talks to us in front of an impressive rack of books, including Jon Meachams Destiny and Power and Bushs Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Look Presidential by James Moore.

Watching a clip featuring John Harwood, CNNs Whitehouse correspondent, as he was seated in front of his bookshelf, I could read titles like Michael Kranishs Trump Revealed and Its a Long Story: My Life, by Willie Nelson. CNNs political commentator John Avlon had a biography of Herbert Hoover behind him.

The at-home settings of political candidates can tell a lot about what they value by what is or isnt on the shelves. In a video conference from home, Bernie Sanders had no books on display but two nice pictures of Vermont on the walls behind him. In his taped campaign messages, Joe Biden has a lot of books in his basement study. Most of them like, The Making of the President 1960 by Ted White, were written before 1980.

Ill admit that it is rare that I switch over to Fox News. I did see where Lara Logan has Michael Waltzs Warrior Diplomat on her shelf. I would expect the other Fox personalities to have titles like The Conscience of a Conservative, by Barry Goldwater, Pat Buchanans Right From the Beginning, Stealing America, by Dinesh DSouza, and books by other conservative authors like Mark Steyn, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter. There would be a lot of American flags in the background, and perhaps a framed picture of Donald Trump on the wall. Im guessing Sean Hannity would have Ted White and Blue, by Ted Nugent, in his collection.

Now, you might wonder how I would showcase myself, should I ever do a television interview from my home. First of all, it wouldnt be shot in my office. That would give truth to what my wife has always said about me. Id set up a book case behind my easy chair in the living room with a picture of a clipper ship on the wall. On the shelves you would see pictures of my dogs; a copy of Mayflower, by Nathanial Philbrick; My Turn at Bat, by Ted Williams; and Drive: The Story of My life, by Larry Bird. Id include a complete set of Robert B. Parker novels, and a bunch of my own books that Ive written all face out. And Id shave.

Jim Coogan is a Register columnist. Reach him at

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COOGANS BLUFF: Its all in the bookshelves - Wicked Local

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May 13th, 2020 at 5:45 am

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