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During my half a century in public life, my image and reputation have had more ups and downs than the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island. I have been called savior and sinner, fool and wise man, crusader and exploiter, hothead and dope. I am routinely scorned, admired, beloved, and belittled—which one is usually based on when the viewer tuned in. Were you around for my early days as a crusading local newsman? Did you waste an evening with me inside Al Capone’s empty vault? Were you watching when the bombs dropped in Afghanistan or Iraq, or did you tune in to the raucous talk show when my nose was broken in the best television studio brawl ever caught on tape?
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and my employment by the conservative rabble-rousers of Fox News—and, more recently, with the coming of the Age of Trump—my professional life has been even more difficult to define. How could a sincerely progressive native-born Jew-Rican New Yorker like me ever work for an outfit better suited to the vibes of Orange County, California, the Dixie, Appalachia, or the Mountain West? How could I not condemn and obstruct a wrecking ball like Donald Trump?
Over five decades, I have met most of the era’s good and bad guys, from Ronald Reagan to Charles Manson, Fidel Castro to Yasser Arafat, Muhammad Ali to John Lennon, and Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson. Two figure heavily in this book, both longtime friends: Roger Ailes, the disgraced yet undeniably brilliant creator of Fox News; and Donald Trump, once a flamboyant playboy, billionaire businessman, and now 45th President of the United States.
At the vigorous twilight of a long and largely improvised life lived in plain sight, I have little left to prove. Faced with a series of random chances, for better and worse, what I made of my life is what I made of those chances. Time has enlightened and humbled me.