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Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 on NPR, is a journalist and the author of the novels Hey Day, Turn of the Century, The Real Thing, and his latest non-fiction book[…]

Kurt Andersen discusses an etiology of snark. He talks about the impact of Spy Magazine, which he founded with Graydon Carter, on current media.

Kurt Andersen: I would say that the impact in the 15 to 20 year retrospect that Spy magazine had is not insignificant; but it was part of a wave of irony and satire that came on generational wave of baby boomers growing up that softened the ground for all kinds of things; from to The Onion to The Daily Show that you see today in a kind of general satirical impulse online and elsewhere.

I can't quantify it, and I can't say Spy exactly led to this. But it seems clear to me that we were one of the entities that softened up the ground for what became a kind “satire explosion," if you will, these days. I think Spy magazine, not single-handedly, but helped changed journalism.

We were doing Spy the same time that Maureen Dowd, as a reporter at the Times, was starting to do political reporting with a real sharp edge and sense of humor. And other people were doing that as well. The David Letterman Show was brand new, and that sensibility began morphing into journalism as well. So I think, to a lesser or a greater degree a bit of satirical sensibility.


Recorded On: July 5, 2007