In four decades since its first broadcasts, television news has revolutionized public life and political policy making, transformed political careers, advanced civil rights, and radically changed newspapers and magazines. In Unsilent Revolution, veteran journalists Robert J. Donovan and Ray Scherer recount key episodes and analyze the areas of American public life most affected by television news. The authors' spirited accounts derive from research, analysis, professional experience, and previously unpublished accounts of people behind as well as in front of the camera. The stories they tell are among the most important of the past four decades: the civil rights struggle in the South, the downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the assassination and funeral of President John F. Kennedy, the ups and downs of President Richard Nixon, the Iranian hostage crisis and President Jimmy Carter, manned space flight, and relief of the Ethiopian famine in 1984. The authors also describe and reflect on the impact of television news on presidential and congressional politics through the Reagan years and into the Bush administration and address the changes in newspapers and magazines caused by the rise of television journalism. In 1989-91, three gripping events - the students' protest and its suppression at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Communist empire in Eastern Europe, and the war in the Persian Gulf - riveted the American public. Television news was central to each event, and this book explains why.
"They are at their best as they amble through four decades of the most memorable moments in television coverage, from Richard Nixon's 'Checkers' speech of 1952 to the old guard's attempted coup in the Soviet Union in 1991. As a compilation of images and episodes, this book is a feast. They do make some fascinating observations. These authors have given us a welcome reminder of how deeply we have been touched by television news, and they encourage us to recall episodes that go beyond their own book." The New York Times