This Town (Liebovich)

Discussion Questions
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Also, consider using these LitLovers talking points for start a discussion for This Town:

1. Liebovich opens his book by taking us inside the Kennedy Center for the funeral of TV's Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert. What do you think of his coverage of what should be a rather solemn event? Is it inappropriate? Is it too irreverent...or is it spot-on?

2. What were your personal observations after reading the first chapter, especially of the guests? Why do you think that Liebovich began his book with the Russert event?

3. Liebovich says of the news: "It is no longer enough just to follow the unsexy business of governance in the seat of power. No more boring and stodgy in This Town." What are the implications that serious analysis of public policy and governmental action is considered "boring and stodgy"? What is the purpose of "news"? Is the public interested in serious policy discussions? Are the news media merely giving the voters what they want (entertainment)? Or are the media seriously underestimating public intelligence and interest in governance? What do you think?

4. What are the changes over the past 30 years which Liebovich believes have altered broadcast and print news? Is it for the better...or worse?

5. Talk about the often referred to "democratization" of news on the web vs. the control the old media once exercised over the flow of information. Is there more openness...and if so, is that better or worse? Or do you think the reporting of news still a closed system?

5. Liebovich says that almost no one leaves Washington anymore.

Quaint is the notion of a citizen-politician humbly returning to his farm, store, or medical practice back home after his time in public office is complete.

However, given complicated issues those in government must grapple with—legal, financial, technical and scientific—isn't it preferable to have people with years of experience who can master the complexities?

6. What does Liebovich mean by people who "brand" or "monetize" themselves? Who comes to your mind as a Washington "brand"?

7. How is D.C. is rife with conflicts of interest? Talk about Bob Barnett, which Liebovich uses as his prime example. In what way is Barnett "a walking self-interest"? What are the implications for policy if everyone is connected in someway to everyone else?

8. Senator Coburn of Oklahoma talked to Liebovich about partisanship in today's Washington: "the easiest way to remain in office is to embrace rigid partisanship...[which] usually signals a deeper faith in careerism than in conservatism or liberalism." Do you agree...or disagree? Is this the root of what today we consider D.C.'s "gridlock"? Or are politicians right to stand by their principles, especially if those principles represent the values of their voters?

9. What most shocked...or maddened you in reading Liebovich's book? Has reading This Town altered your opinion of the people who run our government or live in the nation's capital? Or has it confirmed what you already suspected?

10. After reading This Town, what do you think is the most serious problem facing those who run our government? More importantly, what do you think can be done about it?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online of off, with attribution. Thanks!)

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