An Interview with Ken Auletta.

Abstract to Interview

2:03 Auletta is not entirely sure how his book came to be on Booknotes beyond his publisher, Random House, booking his book tour. But he was thrilled to see that his trip to Washington included a stop at the program.

2:57 Had a wonderful experience with the show because it was so clear that other interviewers had not read the book. But Brian Lamb had clear questions and brought the book with him, which was very marked up. Feels that Brian’s interviews were also so positive because he had the luxury of time, allowing for a conversation about the book itself and its creation.

6:49 Both being in media, Auletta and Brian had a great deal of respect for one another and what they did.

7:36 He believes that there is a select audience for this kind of program which goes into detail about the process of writing a book, including specifically audience members and those in the book industry. He feels that this program overall treats their viewers and intelligent.

8:58 Usually you are not asked biographical questions in interviews on television, so Booknotes was different in that respect. Auletta feels that this is because of the shorter length of other interviews as well as the fact that because he is not a celebrity author he wasn’t the type of person who interviewers would ask this of.

10:04 Was surprised by some of the questions he was asked. Those questions were the ones that were more challenging and out of the ordinary. In this way he felt that the interview was challenging in a positive way.

12:36 Had seen the program both before and after his interview, always having respect for it. But it wasn’t until he went on the program that he realized exactly how thoroughly Brian read the books based on the notes he saw for his own work.

13:35 Auletta loved the Booknotes approach to having an austere set and simple camera set-ups. He felt that it allowed the focus to be on his work and the questions, the exact point of such a set-up. But he feels that this limits the audience because of its lack of production value.

14:36 Feels that the books chosen throughout the length of the program and the interviews themselves will help future historians and writers who want to get a feel for life in America at that time as well as biographies of these authors. Auletta is thrilled that the interviews and oral histories about the interviews are all available online.

18:09 Does not believe that there was a change in his sales based on his interview on Booknotes the way there was on other interviews, such as ones on the Today Show, but does not feel that this negatively impacted his experience with the program.

22: 31 Does not feel that Booknotes or CSPAN have had a lasting impact on society because the viewership is just too low. That being said it did have an impact on Auletta as an individual.

24:59 Feels that there has been an extreme shift in media with the rise of the internet and also cable networks. People do not have one central source of information, trust information less, and tend to seek out mediums which share their political values.

26:53 Feels that the importance of Booknotes, CSPAN, and Brian Lamb are that they give informed information to the audience, which is a crucial public service in a democracy. Feels that this was a commitment of Brian which he infused into CSPAN during its early years.


Misha Griffith (Oral Historian), “An Interview with Ken Auletta.,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed November 29, 2022,



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Dublin Core


An Interview with Ken Auletta.


Misha Griffith (Oral Historian)


16 July 2014


Ken Auletta is interviewed as part of the Booknotes Oral History Project on 16 July 2014. Mr. Perlstein discusses his appearance on C-SPAN's Booknotes program on 6 October 1991, where he discussed his book "Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way."


Booknotes (Television program)
Lamb, Brian, 1941-
C-SPAN (Television network)


Booknotes Oral History Series. R0143 Box 01 File 16.


George Mason University Libraries


Copyright held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries.


Video recording