September 29, 2006
Frank Rich has been a critic, editorialist and columnist for over 30 years. In an excerpt from his new book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina, he states 9/11 was a new morning in America a wake-up call, you'd think, for a country that had been habituated to peace and prosperity and had had the luxury of devoting several years to obsessing about a president's seamy sex life. But whatever else 9/11 was, we can see now that it was the beginning of a new national narrative a compelling and often persuasive story that was told by the president of the United States and his administration to mobilize a shell-shocked country desperate to be led.
Rich states that what the citizens did not know as they rallied behind this president as he went to war, was that the administration's highest priority would be not to vanquish Al Qaeda but to consolidate its own power at any cost. It was a mission that could be accomplished only by a propaganda presidency in which reality was steadily replaced by a scenario of its own invention. In this conversation, Rich illuminates the White House's disturbing love affair with truthiness and the ways in which a bungled war, a seemingly obscure Washington leak, and a devastating hurricane at long last revealed the man behind the curtain, as well as the story that had been so effectively sold to the nation as God-given patriotic fact.
This event is co-presented by Culture Project Impact Festival.
About Frank Rich
Frank Rich became a New York Times Op-Ed columnist in 1994 after serving for thirteen years as the newspaper's chief drama critic. He has written about culture and politics for many other publications and was on the staffs of Time, the New York Post, and New Times magazine after starting his career as a founding editor of The Richmond Mercury, a weekly newspaper, in the early 1970s. He is the author of Ghost Light, a childhood memoir; Hot Seat: Theater Criticism for ?The New York Times,? 1980?1993; and The Theatre Art of Boris Aronson, coauthored with Lisa Aronson.
About Paul Holdengräber
Paul Holdengräber is the Director of Public Programs - now known as "LIVE from the NYPL" - for The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library.