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Watchdogs of democracy? : the waning Washington press corps and how it has failed the public

by Thomas, Helen, 1920-2013.

Format: Print Book 2006
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
Sewickley Public Library Nonfiction 070.4 THO 2006
Location  Sewickley Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  070.4 THO 2006
In the course of more than sixty years spent covering Washington politics, Helen Thomas has witnessed a raft of fundamental changes in the way news is gathered and reported. Gone are the days of frequent firsthand contact with the president. Now, the press sees the president only at tightly controlled and orchestrated press conferences. In addition, Thomas sees a growing -- and alarming -- reluctance among reporters to question government spokesmen and probe for the truth. The result has been a wholesale failure by journalists to fulfill what is arguably their most vital role in contemporary American life -- to be the watchdogs of democracy. Today's journalists, according to Thomas, have become subdued, compromised lapdogs.Here, the legendary journalist and bestselling author delivers a hard-hitting manifesto on the precipitous decline in the quality and ethics of political reportage -- and issues a clarion call for change. Thomas confronts some of the most significant issues of the day, including the jailing of reporters, the conservative swing in television news coverage, and the administration's increased insistence on "managed" news. But she is most emphatic about reporters' failure to adequately question President George W. Bush and White House spokesmen about the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, and on subjects ranging from homeland security to the economy. This, she insists, was a dire lapse.Drawing on her peerless knowledge of journalism, Washington politics, and nine presidential administrations, as well as frank interviews with leading journalists past and present, Thomas provides readers with a rich historical perspective on the roots of American journalism, the circumstances attending the rise and fall of its golden age, and the nature and consequences of its current shortcomings. The result is a powerful, eye-opening discourse on the state of political reportage -- as well as a welcome and inspiring demand for meaningful and lasting reform.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "After covering nine presidents as the most recognized member of the Washington press corps, Thomas is eminently qualified to assess current coverage of the White House. Declaring that journalists are the watchdogs of democracy, and, further, that without an informed people, there can be no democracy, Thomas offers a cogent, bracing assessment of the deteriorating state of journalistic ethics. All administrations attempt to manage the news, Thomas avers, but none prior to the Bush-2 White House has pioneered methods that steer message management into outright government propaganda. And never before have Washington reporters behaved like lapdogs rather than watchdogs, unwilling to ask obvious questions and demand honest answers. The public is aware of this incredible lack of courage, a failure Thomas links to the corporate consolidation of media outlets and the focus on profit and entertainment rather than good old muckraking journalism. Thomas is as engaging as she is wise and passionate in this invaluable history of White House reporting, a refresher course on why we must support a responsible, active, and free press. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2006 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Thomas, who has been covering Washington for more than 60 years, is displeased with the way in which the government tries to manipulate the news as never before; the press, diminished and monopolized by big business kowtowing to advertisers is "supine"; and dishonesty is everywhere. Thomas believes in a healthy adversarial challenge between government and press, but her explanation of her stance sometimes veers off track. She characterizes the nine presidents (beginning with Kennedy) she has covered, each of whom tried to spin the news his own way (Nixon, for a while, resorted to total blackout). Thomas dates the ever widening "credibility gap" back to the Vietnam War under Johnson. By this time, message management had reached the point of "outright propaganda." Readers will be entertained by her definition of the terms "background" and "off the record" and the difference between a "leak" and a "plant." But Thomas sees a bright side: she applauds trenchant political cartoonists and believes that the active public interest expressed in Internet blogs may help create transparency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Government and the press -- United States.
Press and politics -- United States.
Journalism -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Journalism -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
Publisher New York :Scribner,2006
Language English
Notes Includes index.
"A Lisa Drew book."
Description xxii, 215 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN 0743267818
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