Did the Washington Post bring down Richard Nixon by reporting on the Watergate scandal? Did a cryptic remark by Walter Cronkite effectively end the Vietnam War? Did William Randolph Hearst vow to "furnish the war" in the 1898 conflict with Spain? In Getting It Wrong, W. Joseph Campbell addresses and dismantles these and other prominent media-driven myths—stories about or by the news media that are widely believed but which, on close examination, prove apocryphal. In a fascinating exploration of these and other ...
Did the Washington Post bring down Richard Nixon by reporting on the Watergate scandal? Did a cryptic remark by Walter Cronkite effectively end the Vietnam War? Did William Randolph Hearst vow to "furnish the war" in the 1898 conflict with Spain? In Getting It Wrong, W. Joseph Campbell addresses and dismantles these and other prominent media-driven myths—stories about or by the news media that are widely believed but which, on close examination, prove apocryphal. In a fascinating exploration of these and other cases—including the supposedly outstanding coverage of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina—Campbell describes how myths like these can feed stereotypes, deflect blame from policymakers, and overstate the power and influence of the news media.
“Toting big guns and an itchy trigger-finger, Campbell flattens established myths that you were brought up to believe were true.”
- Andrew Ferguson
"It may be the best book about journalism in recent memory; it is certainly the most subversive."
- Nick Gillespie
“Campbell's Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism is essential reading not just for journalists but all consumers of the news.”
“Exquisitely researched and lively.”
Columbia Journalism Review
- James Roylan
"The value of these studies is . . . in the detailed and illuminating research Campbell has applied to each."
- Marie Shear
“Written by a scholar who makes intricate facts clear, employing English, not Scholarspeak, Getting it Wrong is an eye-opener.”
The Morning News/Identity Theory
“A useful book . . . which among other things answers the question about the importance of debunking media-driven myths.”
- R. A. Logan
“A solid resource for those interested in journalism.”
When we think about Watergate, most of us believe that the investigative reporting of two journalists, Woodward and Bernstein, forced the resignation of President Nixon. Not so fast, argues Campbell (Sch. of Communication, American Univ.; Yellow Journalism). He claims exposing the scandal was not that simple and required multiple lines of investigation carried out by many. He analyzes the appeal of the "heroic-journalist myth" and documents how we have come to believe that the dogged efforts of two reporters saved the country. Watergate is just one of ten stories that he reexamines to demonstrate how myths of journalism distort our understanding of the power of the press. Writing chronologically, he begins by refuting the often repeated claim that Hearst and his newspapers incited the Spanish-American War and finishes with a critical review of the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Each chapter examines one of journalism's best-known stories and seeks to correct the record. VERDICT This well-written and well-researched book will be of interest to historians, journalism scholars, and sociologists. Readers concerned about media influence should be relieved, while journalists could be discouraged to learn how little their efforts matter.—Judy Solberg, Seattle Univ. Lib.
W. Joseph Campbell is Professor in the School of Communication at American University. He is the author of four other books, including Yellow Journalism: Puncturing the Myths, Defining the Legacies and The Year That Defined American Journalism: 1897 and the Clash of Paradigms.
List of Illustrations
Chapter One. "I'll Furnish the War": The Making of a Media Myth
Chapter Two. Fright beyond Measure? The Myth of The War of the Worlds
Chapter Three. Murrow vs. McCarthy: Timing Makes the Myth
Chapter Four. The Bay of Pigs–New York Times Suppression Myth
Chapter Five. Debunking the "Cronkite Moment"
Chapter Six. The Nuanced Myth: Bra Burning at Atlantic City
Chapter Seven. It's All about the Media: Watergate's Heroic-Journalist Myth
Chapter Eight. The "Fantasy Panic": The News Media and the Crack-Baby Myth
Chapter Nine. "She Was Fighting to the Death": Mythmaking in Iraq
Chapter Ten. Hurricane Katrina and the Myth of Superlative Reporting