W. Joseph Campbell

A ‘fascinating and detailed exploration’

In Debunking, Media myths, War of the Worlds, Washington Post, Watergate myth on July 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

My media myth-busting book, Getting It Wrong,was reviewed recently by the Idaho Statesman, which called the work a “fascinating and detailed exploration.”

Getting It Wrong addresses and debunks 10 prominent media-driven myths, those dubious tales about the news media that masquerade as factual.

The Statesman’s review discusses in some detail the myths about the War of the Worlds radio broadcast in October 1938, which supposedly set off nationwide panic and mass hysteria, and about the Watergate scandal of 1972-74 which brought down Richard Nixon’s corrupt presidency.

The reviewer was Bob Kustra, president of Boise State University and the engaging host of the  Reader’s Corner, a weekly radio program about books and their authors. I was interviewed on Kustra’s show last month.

About the media myth of Watergate — the notion that intrepid reporters for the Washington Post broke or exposed the scandal and brought about Nixon’s resignation — Kustra writes:

“While Campbell acknowledges that most people believe two young and ambitious Washington Post reporters brought down a corrupt president, he deftly shows how journalism’s contribution to Nixon’s fall was modest at best.

“The president’s decline, he explains, was the consequence of his criminal conduct, which was exposed in the convergence of many forces. But it’s far easier to focus on two heroic journalists, says Campbell, than it is to grapple with the complexities of the Watergate scandal.

Nixon resigns: Not WaPo's doing

“Therein,” Kustra adds, “lies one of the reasons we are so likely to believe media myths — they offer simplistic answers to complex issues. They also lead us to believe the news media are very powerful and sometimes even dangerous forces in society.”

He also writes that the myths debunked in Getting It Wrong “are worth revisiting, and not just to set the record straight.

“Doing so offers important lessons on being discerning consumers of what we read and hear in the news.”


Recent and related:

  1. […] significantly, as I point out Getting It Wrong, the anecdote about Hearst’s purported vow suffers from “an irreconcilable internal […]

  2. […] further note in Getting It Wrong that even if Johnson saw the Cronkite’s program on videotape, the president “gave no […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: