Media-driven myths aren’t harmless, says W. Joseph Campbell, author of Getting it Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism. Instead, he says, they glorify the news media and can cloud the facts and obscure the truth, often with serious consequences. Campbell was a guest blogger today at the Washington Post’s Political Bookworm blog, where he blasted three of the most pervasive media myths.
by W. Joseph Campbell
The most famous anecdote in American journalism may be William Randolph Hearst’s purported vow, telegraphed to the artist Frederic Remington in Cuba, to “furnish the war” with Spain at the end of the 19th century.
Or it may be Edward R. Murrow’s television program on CBS in 1954, which supposedly brought an end to Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy’s communists-in-government witch-hunt.
Or it may be the interpretation of Watergate that says The Washington Post’s investigative reporting brought down Richard Nixon’s corrupt presidency.
All three are well-known stories about the exercise of media power, for good or bad. All three anecdotes are often retold.
All three are media-driven myths.