W. Joseph Campbell is a professor at American University School of Communications. Before he entered academia he spent 20 years as a journalist, often traveling and working abroad (in the days when major American newspapers and magazines could afford to send a fair number of reporters overseas).
He has a new book coming out in July, Getting It Wrong, published by the University of California Press. It focuses on ten major myths about the Fourth Estate that have arisen in the last century or so. The Washington Post website’s “Political Bookworm” discusses three of these: that the Spanish-American War was mainly the creation of William Randolph Hearst; that Edward R. Murrow, when he criticized Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy on his TV show See It Now, was the first major journalist to criticize McCarthy’s tactics (when several reporters and columnists were already doing so regularly); and that the thirty-seventh President was removed from office entirely through the efforts of Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman and the late Jason Robards Jr:
Katharine Graham, The Post’s publisher during the Watergate period, said in 1997: “Sometimes people accuse us of bringing down a president, which of course we didn’t do. The processes that caused [Nixon’s] resignation were constitutional.” She was right, but the complexities of Watergate are not readily recalled these days. What does stand out is a media-centric interpretation that the dogged reporting of Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein brought Nixon down.