Friday, January 9, 2015

‘#Newsfail’ (Book Review)

It’s a sign of the times that a book title is in the form of a hashtag. For many disillusioned with mainstream politics, #Newsfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will (Simon & Schuster, 2014) might be a welcomed treat. Authoring this humorous commentary on the American political landscape is the goofy comedian-journalist couple, Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny, best known for Citizen’s Radio, their independent online radio show that some might call “left-leaning” and others might call “radical.”

Style-wise, #Newsfail has a lot in common the work of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, although I doubt the authors would appreciate the comparison. Kilstein and Kilkenny have an opinion about nearly every current issue people are talking and arguing: climate change, “rape culture,” the “gay agenda,” gun control, drug reform, and more. They also have some strong words for the political situation and role of corporations and the media today. However, most of what they have to say boils down to strong language and weak arguments. But I don’t think the authors are really trying to convert anyone to their side. They’re here to entertain their fans, so even some allies might find it difficult to take #Newsfail too seriously. (Hence, why it’s categorized as “Humor.”)

If you have the stomach for a lot of ad hoc “it’s just so” arguments and “we represent the people” claims, then go for it. Between their rants are some hilarious and charming stories about how the couple got together, created their radio show, etc. While I’m far from being on board with their politics (a big exception being “rape culture” – disgusting it certainly is!), I found their book a nice quick read: the sort of thing that’s suitable for an airplane carry-on. I could appreciate it in spite of itself. The only thing I’m left wondering is, why – for all their ranting against corporate media and sponsors – did they go with a big-time publisher? Ironic, definitely.

Disclaimer: I received an advance uncorrected proof copy of this book as a First Reads giveaway winner on There was no obligation to write a review.