'All That Glitters' Author Shines At National Press Club Talks


Award-winning journalist Thomas Maier's new book All That Glitters traces the 1980s rise of Donald Trump in significant part to the magazine world of billionaire S. I. Newhouse Jr. and his editorial team.

In the 1980s, Newhouse fostered Trump's rise via their mutual friendship with Trump mentor Roy Cohn as well as the celebrity journalism practiced by Newhouse editors Anna thomas maier portrait2Wintour and Tina Brown, according to Maier, left, in the book published this month. He amplified the themes in two lectures on Sept. 19 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The tale unfolds this way in Maier's words:

Wintour and Brown were bold and talented British women who fought their way to the top of this male-dominated American industry driven by greed and betrayal.

thomas maier all that glitters cover SmallWintour became an icon of fashion and New York’s high society, while Brown helped define the intersection of literary culture and Hollywood celebrity, according to this account: They jockeyed for power in the hypercompetitive “off with their heads” atmosphere set up by Newhouse and his longtime creative guru Alex Liberman, two men who for years controlled the glossy Condé Nast magazines that dictated how women should look, dress, and feel.

In turning this world upside down, Wintour and Brown challenged the old rules and made Newhouse’s company internationally famous.

Ultimately, one of them won in their fascinating struggle for fame and fortune during the height of New York’s gilded age of print — a time before the Internet, before 9/11, when the Reagans ruled the White House and Donald Trump was a mere local developer featured on the cover of Newhouse’s publications. This book traces the careers of Wintour and Brown and shows how they and the Condé Nast media empire were major media enablers in the rise of Donald Trump and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

At its heart, All That Glitters is a parable about the changes in America’s media, where corruption and easy compromises are sprinkled with glitter, power, and glory. Originally titled Newhouse -- before being retitled, revised and updated with a new introduction and afterword — the book won the 1994 Frank Luther Mott Award for best-researched media book of the year.

For reporters, voters and McClendon Group members these days, such topics are highly relevant, this editor believes. That was the rationale to organize a book lecture on Sept. 19 via the press club's Sarah McClendon speaker society, which since 1946 has organized speaker dinners at the club. 

McClendon, a longtime White House correspondent and former president of the club, led the discussions for decades along with her colleague John Edward Hurley, the group's current chair and also a founding director of our Justice Integrity Project.

Maier shone in two well-received talks.

The first was focused heavily on career tips to the Club's Young Members Committee, a different group than the McClendon speaker society.

Maier urged the young reporters to keep "balance" in their careers by undertaking major journalism projects outside of their main responsibilities (as he has by book, television and university teaching work). Also, he encouraged his audience to distribute their news stories in both video and print platforms. While most of his work has been in print during his more than three decades at Newsday in New York, for example, he said that he is also one of his newsroom's major advocates for creating major video treatments of major print articles.

His second talk was to the McClendon group about his latest book, which is subtitled, Anna Wintour, Tina Brown, and the Rivalry Inside America’s Richest Media Empire. Maier stressed his belief that journalism must provide the basic information necessary for informed citizens in a democracy and not just lapse into celebrity and other non-serious genres.

The speaker generated the same kind of close attention from his audiences last week as critics bestowed on All That Glitters. Here is an example:

“A must-read account of the characters who built an oversized media empire, super-charged America’s celebrity culture and enabled the rise of Donald Trump," said CNN commentator Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About thomas maier mafia spiesTrump.

"Without Anna Wintour, Tina Brown, Si Newhouse and the rest," D'Antonio continued in his book-jacket blurb, "we wouldn't have the likes of #MeToo’s Harvey Weinstein and all the other icons of excess."

As we noted in introducing Maier, he is an award-winning author, journalist, and television producer.

His book Masters of Sex was the basis for the Emmy-winning Showtime drama that ran for four seasons. His other books include When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys; The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings; Dr. Spock: An American Life (named a "Notable Book of the Year" by the New York Times); and Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power and Glory of America's Richest Media Empire and the Secretive Man Behind It (an earlier version of All That Glitters and winner of the Frank Luther Mott Award as Best Media Book of the Year presented by the National Honor Society in Journalism and Mass Communication).

He has worked as an investigative reporter for Newsday for over thirty years and co-taught a course on investigative reporting for years with Newsday’s late investigative editor Bob Greene.

Maier's talk kicked off the McClendon Group's September-through-June speaker season. The discussions are open to the public and are usually announced here at the Justice Integrity Project, among other platforms. 

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