Ed Bark: I didn’t ‘eviscerate’ Brian Stelter’s book in the New York Times

Here’s what veteran TV critic Ed Bark wrote about Brian Stelter’s just-published “Top of the Morning”: It’s “a breezy read with more than a little overblown prose, some of it just plain silly.” The book “ends up being like a breakfast made not quite to order. …Edible? Yes. Fulfilling? Not quite.” (That review ran in the Times today.)

Here’s what people wrote about Bark on Twitter after his review came out: He’s “an envious, petulant man” who “sounds like an old, jealous crank” determined to do a “drive-by shooting.”

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“I don’t think it was a trashing of the book,” the 65-year-old Bark tells me. “It wasn’t a favorable review, but I didn’t eviscerate the book” as some people have claimed. (A Hollywood Reporter story about his review “got a ton of things wrong,” and prompted him to post a comment on the site.)

“I’ve admired Brian’s work,” says the Dallas-based journalist, who has run unclebarky.com for seven years. “I’ve read virtually everything he’s written. He’s obviously a dogged reporter.”

What about the tweets that say he panned the book out of jealousy?

“I don’t get that criticism. I’ve been doing this a long time. I don’t have the name or notoriety of Brian Stelter, but it’s no way jealousy. I agree it was a less than favorable review, but I pointed out some things he did well, too. …I’m sure this [review] isn’t going to affect the sales of Brian’s book”

Bark, who took a Dallas Morning News buyout in 2006 after 27 years at the paper, has reviewed television programs for the New York Times before but never books. He got the “Top of the Morning” review assignment after a Times staffer recommended him to the books editors.

Times editors, he says, “really did not mess with the review — there were minor style things — but in terms of the content, it wasn’t altered in any way.”

I’ve invited Stelter to comment on the review.

UPDATE: He wrote on Reddit this afternoon: “I was expecting a tough review from The Times. [Recall the review that The Times published about 'Page One,' a documentary I appeared in, back in 2011.] If it had been glowing, readers would have rolled their eyes!”

* Ed Bark reviews Brian Stelter’s “Top of the Morning” (nytimes.com)
* Give NYT credit for allowing an opposing view (realitybitesback.blogspot.com)
* Brian Lowry reviews this “breezy, gossipy account of the morning-show wars” (variety.com)
* Stelter does a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) (reddit.com)

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