Publisher description for When the press fails : political power and the news media from Iraq to Katrina / W. Lance Bennett, Regina G. Lawrence, and Steven Livingston.


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Counter
During the gravest moments of George W. Bush’s tenure—the response to 9/11, the buildup to war with Iraq, the Abu Ghraib scandal—the media largely reported reality as his administration scripted it. Why, in these times when we most need a critical, independent press, does this essential pillar of democracy fail us? A sobering look at the intimate relationship between political power and the news media, When the Press Fails argues that reporters’ dependence on official sources disastrously thwarts coverage of dissenting voices from outside the beltway.
The result is both an indictment of official spin and an urgent call to action that begins by questioning why the mainstream press neglected to cover considerable evidence against the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Drawing on hard-hitting interviews with journalists and analysis of content from major news outlets, the authors show that such catastrophic blind spots, particularly during the Abu Ghraib controversy, have stemmed from a lack of high-level sources within government willing to question the administration publicly. Contrasting these grave failures with the refreshingly critical reporting on Hurricane Katrina—a rare event that caught officials off guard, enabling journalists to enter a no-spin zone—When the Press Fails concludes by proposing new practices to reduce reporters’ dependence on power.
The authors ultimately contend that if ordinary Americans start to hear alternative perspectives aired in the legitimizing arena of the mainstream press, they just might begin to act as a public—no longer suffering with private shock and awe as world-changing events unfold before their eyes.



Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Government and the press -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
Press and politics -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
Journalism -- Objectivity -- United States -- History -- 21st century.