The program will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Knight TV Studio on the third level and will feature a discussion with the Newseum’s John Maynard, followed by audience Q-and-A.
I’ll be signing copies of Getting It Wrong afterward.
The book addresses, and debunks, 10 prominent media-driven myths–stories about and/or by the news media that are widely believed and often retold but which, on close inspection, proved to be apocryphal or wildly exaggerated.
Here is a brief description about each of the 10 myths:
- Remington-Hearst: William Randolph Hearst’s famous vow, “you furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war,” is almost certainly apocryphal.
- War of Worlds: The notion that the War of Worlds radio dramatization in 1938 caused nationwide panic and mass hysteria is exaggerated.
- Murrow-McCarthy: Edward R. Murrow’s famous See It Now program in March 1954 did not end Senator Joseph McCarthy’s communists-in-government witch-hunt; Murrow in fact was very late to take on McCarthy.
- Bay of Pigs: The New York Times did not suppress its reporting in the run-up to the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961.
- Cronkite-Johnson: Walter Cronkite’s special report on Vietnam in February 1968 did not prompt an immediate reassessment of U.S. war policy.
- Bra-burning: Humor columnist Art Buchwald helped spread the notion that feminist demonstrators dramatically burned their bras at a Miss America protest in September 1968.
- Watergate: The Washington Post’s intrepid reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, did not bring down Richard Nixon’s corrupt presidency. That they did is a trope that knows few bounds.
- Crack babies: The much-feared “bio-underclass” of children born to women who smoked crack cocaine during their pregnancies never materialized.
- Jessica Lynch: The Washington Post’s erroneous reporting about Jessica Lynch early in the Iraq War gave rise to several myths about her capture and rescue.
- Hurricane Katrina: News coverage of Katrina’s aftermath in New Orleans in early September 2005 was marred by wild exaggerations of extreme, Mad Max-like violence.
As I write in Getting It Wrong, the myths debunked “are among American journalism’s best-known stories. Most of them are savory tales. And at least some of them seem almost too good to be false.”
I further write that because it “takes on some of the most treasured stories in American journalism,” Getting It Wrong is “a work with a provocative edge. It could not be otherwise.”
- Media myths, the ‘junk food of journalism’
- Debunking the debunking
- The Post ‘took down a president’? That’s a myth
- That awesome ‘Cronkite Moment’
- Why not the ‘McGee Moment’?
- Jessica Lynch and the lingering hero myth