The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

I still remember where I was when I first heard about the AOL-Time Warner merger. I was sitting at my desk at my old gig, just firing up the computer and getting my first jolt of caffeine that morning. Got online, got my first early-morning bunch of press releases in the email. There it was, the big announcement.

And my very first thought was: This has got to be a hoax. Some little weasel somehow managed to concoct the whole thing and got it past the wire services, and in a matter of hours, the joke would be revealed, and things would be back to normal.

Well, AOL Time Warner Inc. was eventually born out of this, which leads you to believe there was no hoax. Then again, considering how the company's prospects have soured since the big merge, perhaps it was a great big hoax after all. That's pretty much the contention of Washington Post reporter Alec Klein, in his new book "Stealing Time".

These behind-the-deal treatments can be either very interesting and absorbing, or else deathly dull. Klein is a good reporter; we'll see if he's a good book author. Since the industry subjects are two of my favorites--media and technology--this book arleady has a leg up on my interest barometer.