"An aggressive and self-serving media"
COLUMBIA, 3/6/13 (Review) -- What a beee-yawtch, that Adrienne Richards!
As the conniving reporter-antagonist in Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid's 608-page kitchen sink of a novel, Only Daughters (story above), Richards quickly makes you forget the heroics of Woodward and Bernstein; the authority of Cronkite; the hard-hitting ethics of Edward R. Murrow.
Adrienne is the worst journalism has to offer, so bad in fact descriptions of the 2006 book call it, in part, the "story of Eleanor Rawling's struggle against an aggressive and self-serving media."
Dr. Eleanor Rawlings is the novel's protagonist and against her benign persona, McDavid casts Richards as a shallow scheming climber destined for a bad end.
Richards' "move to television had been deliberate and carefully calculated since her undergraduate years as a journalism major at NYU," McDavid writes. "Last year's dental rehab was a prerequisite. The porcelain laminates closed the gaps and created perfectly shaped, brilliant white teeth....The breast augmentation pleased her, particularly since it contrasted so well with her small six-pack belly....This was, after all, about winning. She knew who kept score and how score was kept."
Who keeps score? In McDavid's fictional world, guys do.
All Richards needed to land her job at Chicago TV station KJTC was a "male interviewer, minimally provocative though professional attire, and a muted shy demeanor....Men were so predictable and basic," McDavid writes. "She played the interviewer like a maestro. This was the price to pay for entry into broadcast journalism, and she had absolutely no regrets for her methods."
After Richards "ambushes" an errant Congressman in a parking lot, then "edits the interview shrewdly" to wash out her "abruptness and aggression," she needs stories with "more meat than domestic violence, drug-related murders, or highway accidents," Hizzoner writes. "She needed big stories...Her Holy Grail as a network anchor was a long way off, and she needed to move relentlessly."
Relentlessly to get that anchor spot at All News Network (ANN), McDavid's fictional take on CNN.
Eleanor's husband Peter gets busted on "15 counts of fraud and the theft of some $60-$100 million" and Richards is on her way. But not without a little steam. "She turned to Brandon Parker and kissed his ear while her hand explored his thigh."
Oh my, Mr. Mayor!

Avoiding spoilers, Adrienne -- and the novel's other conniver Jennifer D'Angelo, who cheats with Eleanor's husband Peter -- get theirs in the end. The more dependent, less aggressive women, on the other hand, have a happier time of things.