Cissy, by Ralph G Martin, Simon & Schuster, 1979, is absolutely unbearable. Not because of the writing, the language, the organization, or the veracity. Those are all great. Rather it is because of the characters.
They are almost all utterly depressing. Perhaps it is personal, or perhaps it is a positive prejudice, an assumption that reporters, writers, and media owners are inherently 'good guys', white hats, defenders of free speech. . . .
Instead of alcoholic cocaine addicts who fire people because they get 'bored' with them, scream at their own children to the point where they 'divorce' each other, have a never ending string of family-harming affairs with other married people, cut their grand kids out of their will, and so forth and so on.
This book was like a car crash on TV - I didn't want to watch it exactly, but I got sucked in, and felt compelled to watch the whole thing. Somehow I wish I didn't.
If you have ever wondered about the origin of the "Aristocrats" joke, this is a good place to start. See also "Marie Antoinette" by Sofia Coppola, and "Sophia Tolstoy", by Alexandra Popoff.
If you read Poisoning the Press by Mark Feldstein, this is a nice prequel to it. Drew Pearson, Cissy's frenemy (eventually, almost every friend in her life would become an enemy) was Jack Anderson's mentor.
I would avoid picking up this book if you are in a down mood. I think it might be dangerous.
There is a tiny sliver of a happy ending; it lasts about one paragraph. Cissy's great grandchildren "broke the cycle of hate", according to her daughter Felicia. Good to know it's possible...
Oh. By the way. The name of the main character is Eleanor "Cissy" Medill Patterson. She was associated with the McCormick / Patterson newspaper family group, back when newspapers were family businesses of very wealthy families. She, along with her brother Joe, became major isolationists in the late 1930s, excoriating president Franklin Roosevelt, who excoriated them right back. Joe had adopted his anti-interventionist philosophy after his horrific experiences during World War I - Cissy, being a life long admirer of her brother, shared his views. Roosevelt told Joe that his papers had delayed the start of the war by a month or three, and humiliated (and angered) him when Joe offered his services to help the war effort. Thus, Cissy turned against FDR. If you have ever heard of the 1942 dropped Espionage Act case against the Chicago Tribune, this book can help explains the origins of the conflict.
The wheels really came off after the war - Martin describes several rumors of cocaine addiction, alcoholism, and orgies. After she died, she left her paper, the Washington Times-Herald to a group of it's main managers. (she had formed it from the Washington Times and Washington Hearld, of her friend William Randolph Hearst). Her survivors fought over her will - the description of this fight may cause one's stomach to turn. The managers sold the paper a few years later.
It would later become the Washington Post, according to Wikipedia at any rate.