No Questions Asked: News Coverage since 9/11


No Questions Asked takes an overarching view of media coverage from the day of the 9/11 attacks through the war in Iraq. It also compares and contrasts how the U.S. media vs. international media covered key events during this period. Fact-based rather than polemical, the book explains why journalists responded the way they did during wartime and explores the ramifications for democracy of a weak press.

The Fourth Estate's most important job is to present unbiased, accurate ...

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No Questions Asked: News Coverage since 9/11 (Democracy and the News Series)

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No Questions Asked takes an overarching view of media coverage from the day of the 9/11 attacks through the war in Iraq. It also compares and contrasts how the U.S. media vs. international media covered key events during this period. Fact-based rather than polemical, the book explains why journalists responded the way they did during wartime and explores the ramifications for democracy of a weak press.

The Fourth Estate's most important job is to present unbiased, accurate information about events, issues, and policies to the public. Without public scrutiny, administrations can become a breeding ground for bad and dangerous ideas.

In recent years, for several reasons—including the brilliant psychological manipulation of the nation after the September 11, 2001, attacks—the American media have allowed administration officials to present information to the public without having to worry much about answering uncomfortable questions or having their policies deconstructed for public consumption. Relevant information is buried deep inside newspapers, and gaping holes can be found in many stories; in short, obvious and important questions remain unasked.

The lack of questions from reporters led to a misunderstanding of the facts by the American public and, consequently, to their support of policies based on misinformation. Polls have revealed that more than half of Americans believe mistruths about the war in Iraq and world terrorism. Many, including members of the media, say the press has failed to do its job. Very few news reports filled in the basic blanks—the who, what, where, when, and whys—about U.S. foreign policy, the USA Patriot Act, the administration's insistence on the need for secrecy and more power, the truth about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the necessity of sending our soldiers to topple another country's dictator, throwing an already tenuous region into dangerous imbalance. Very few reports are filling in those blanks now.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With the passage of time, it has become more and more apparent how the American press failed to question the Bush administration response to 9/11 attacks on the U.S., according to independent journalist Finnegan, who explores those failures and what they may have cost the nation. Fear of being perceived as unpatriotic and willingness to accept information doled out by the administration led many journalists to retreat from their responsibility to question policies on the war on terror. The administration was not adequately probed on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the need to topple Saddam Hussein, and the Patriot Act and a host of other policies that have been set in place since 9/11. Finnegan describes the build-up to war and the psychological manipulation the administration used on the public and the press….This is a penetrating look at American news coverage at a critical time in U.S. history."



"While many commentators have drawn connections between the miserably uncritical treatment of the Bush administration by the media following the September 11th attacks and the ability of the administration to initiate the invasion and occupation of Iraq based on nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and equally nonexistent ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, fewer have sought to map out the entire American media landscape in the era of the War on Terror, as independent journalist Finnegan does here. The picture that emerges is, if anything, worse, with even the self-bestowed accolades for the media's coverage of Hurricane Katrina withering under scrutiny. Beyond criticizing the structural and cultural factors that preclude media skepticism towards the powerful, she also documents the many ways that the American media has come to serve essentially as a propaganda organ for government."


Reference & Research Book News

"^INo Questions Asked: News Coverage since 9/11  surveys the American media and its manipulation post-9/11, considering how the facts were misunderstood by the American public due to the lack of the right questions from reporters, and pinpointing mistruths about the war in Iraq and the nature of the threat of world terrorism. An eye-opening survey of democratic process and news reporting emerges which holds particular impact and importance for any college-level library strong in media studies."


Midwest Book Review - California Bookwatch

"^INo Questions Asked: News Coverage Since 9/11  is a clear-headed, methodical exposition on the medias failings since that fateful day….Finnegans unique perspective is that she approaches her subject matter as a journalist who earned a masters degree in educational psychology after the events of Sept. 11. But while the blending of these perspectives provides an academic frame for her understanding of the psychology of terrorism and how it affects the media, its Finnegans working knowledge of journalists and their group-think tendencies that enables her to connect the dots in so devastating a fashion. Reading No Questions Asked is a sobering task, and one that should be required of any aspiring journalist before he or she takes on the mantle."


The Newspaper Guild

"Many others have documented the press' letdown in fulfilling its adversarial role after 9/11. Seeing the problem is easy. Explaining it is harder. So Finnegan's rather studious approach, drawing on individual and group psychology, holds promise for not only understanding the failures but pointing toward reforms….Her suggestions boil down to detachment and determination: Ask hard questions, pursue documentation, seek comments outside the party line and follow up on loose ends and claims. It seems like pretty good psychology: Just use your head."


American Journalism Review

"Finnegan's convincing, readable, and meticulously researched book concerns the failure of the US press to adequately cover real news since the 9/11 attacks. Conservatives will probably accuse Finnegan (an award-winning journalist and a scholar of the psychology of terrorism and the media) of a liberal bias in maintaining that the Bush administration and Fox News bullied a compliant media into censoring key news stories and printing pro-administration propaganda pieces. But no one can deny that the alarming evidence Finnegan presents in support of that contention is well documented and raises questions that need to be asked. This book is more substantive than some other books on the subject (Bernard Goldberg's work comes to mind), many of which are underresearched and rancorous in their attempts to expose the media as liberal, and it is easier to read than David Barker's heavily footnoted, statistic-laden Rushed to Judgment (2002), which argues that the media are 6rnservative. Although the debate over whether the media is fundamentally left- or right-wing may never be settled, Finnegan addresses the controversy with a minimum of snarkiness and moral outrage and a preponderance of facts and intelligent analysis. Essential. All readers; all levels."



"Finnegan's basic argument is that the American media have been largely responsible for such misperceptions because they have failed to maintain an independent, critical position in relation to 11 September, the war on terror, and the current Bush administration more generally. Her aim is thus to present examples of these failings, which she does to great effect by examining how various major American newspapers and television networks have covered news items ranging from the allied bombings of Afghanistan, to the effects of the USA Patriot Act (2001), to aspects of the war in Iraq….and on to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina….[T]he fact that she is able to build such a convincing argument about the malaise of media freedoms in America by drawing on reports from the media itself is testament to her skill in closely probing and contrasting particular media reports. It also shows that there are still flashes of good, critial life in the American media yet."


Journal of American Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275993351
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/30/2006
  • Series: Democracy and the News Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

LISA FINNEGAN is an independent, award-winning journalist who has spent nearly two decades reporting for newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and abroad. After the 9/11 attacks she obtained a master's degree in educational psychology and began to focus on the psychology of terrorism and its impact on the media. She has published articles on the subject in professional journals and has spoken at conferences around the United States. She is an active member of the American Psychological Association.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword   Jeffrey Scheuer     ix
Foreword   Norman Solomon     xiii
Preface     xvii
Acknowledgments     xxi
Introduction: A Patriotic Press     1
A Fearful Press     23
An Obedient Press     35
Civil Liberties, Security, and Silence     49
The Buildup to War     63
Embedded Reporters: Was Objectivity Sacrificed for Access?     85
An Indifferent Press     105
A Propaganda Press     127
Hurricane Katrina and Its Effect on News Reporting     145
Lessons Learned     157
Notes     163
Bibliography     183
Index     185
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