Author Essays, Interviews, and Excerpts, Books for the News, Politics and Current Events

When the Press Fails

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The authors of When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina recently posted an interesting summary of their book on Jay Rosen’s blog Press Think. In the posting W. Lance Bennett, Regina Lawrence, and Steven Livingston outlined their critique of the post 9/11 news media, in which they explore its inability to “resist the ever-present spin of those in power”—focusing especially on the Bush administration’s various bids to sell the war in Iraq to the American public.
When the Press Fails was also featured in a recent editorial piece by Don Wycliff in the Chicago Tribune. Wycliff writes:

According to the authors of a new book on press coverage of the Bush administration, the president and his people actually have enjoyed until relatively recently the acquiescence of a timid, compliant, intimidated press.
The Iraq war, which has become possibly the gravest foreign policy blunder in U.S. history, is the most disastrous result of that acquiescence, say political scientists W. Lance Bennett, Regina G. Lawrence and Steven Livingston in When the Press Fails.

The review continues:

[The authors] are indisputably right about the news media’s dereliction in covering the administration’s campaign to take the nation to war against Iraq. Professional skepticism in too many cases gave way to an uncritical, post-9/11 patriotism. (Check out the newspaper editorials that appeared in the days just after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s much-anticipated speech at the UN Security Council. Seldom is heard a discouraging word.)

Read an excerpt from the book.