When the Media Got It Wrong

A critic says we live in a world of media myths, from “The War of the Worlds” to Watergate. We look at when the press gets it wrong.

Richard Nixon says goodbye outside the White House as he boards a helicopter after resigning the Presidency in this Aug. 9, 1974 file photo. (AP)

There are so many big media milestones we think we know for sure. 

When Walter Cronkite said Vietnam was a quagmire, LBJ thought he’d lost the country. When Edward Murrow took on red-baiter Joseph McCarthy, McCarthy was done. Woodward and Bernstein took down Richard Nixon in Watergate. Orson Welles’ Martian invasion radio-play made Americans hysterical.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong, says my guest today. 

All “media myths,” he says. And there’s a lot more where those came from. 

This Hour, On Point: the charge of “media myth” and American history.


W. Joseph Campbell, professor at American University’s School of Communication. Previously, he worked as a journalist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Hartford Courant, and the Associated Press. He’s author of “Yellow Journalism: Puncturing the Myths, Defining the Legacies” and “The Year that Defined American Journalism: 1897 and the Clash of Paradigms.” His new book is: “Getting it Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism.” You can read an excerpt.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and historian. His latest book is “Age of Betrayal.”

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