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Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11, Top Journalists Speak Out Hardcover – October 1, 2005

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Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11, Top Journalists Speak Out + Into The Buzzsaw: LEADING JOURNALISTS EXPOSE THE MYTH OF A FREE PRESS
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 575 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591023432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591023432
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,091,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Borjesson, an award-winning investigative reporter turned media critic, gathers an impressive list of journalists in what purports to be "an oral account of the current era of crisis," but the author is less interested in her group's answers than whether they agree with her premises: the Bush administration is evil, the American media are largely complicit, and the American public is idiotic. Throughout, Borjesson focuses on botched coverage leading up to the war in Iraq. Her "questions," some amounting to an entire paragraph, others more statement than inquiry, rankle some subjects and motivate others. Ted Koppel bristles at Borjesson's sweeping judgments, while New York Times writer-economist Paul Krugman follows the author's lead almost to the edge of reason. Other times, Borjesson doesn't even listen to her subjects' answers; upon hearing Washington Post special projects reporter Barton Gellman give a thoughtful argument for reconstruction stories ("journalism after the fact") as a valuable way to explain how things happened, including the Bush administration's successful campaign for war, Borjesson smugly rejects the notion: "But you understand how presenting this evidence after the war instead of while the case for war is being made is totally moot." Flawed, yes. Totally moot, no. And Gellman, for anyone who cares to pay attention, impressively explains the difference. In fact, this book is full of such insightful commentary. Just skip the questions.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

American media has garnered severe criticism, particularly abroad, for failing to more vigorously question the Bush administration's insistence on going to war against Iraq. In this collection of interviews with 21 journalists, Borjesson offers a penetrating look at how top reporters regard the efforts by themselves and their colleagues to cover the war and the efforts of the administration to conceal or obfuscate their policy on Iraq. Ted Koppel, anchor of Nightline, known for asking tough questions, asserts that he has never been censored, while White House correspondent Helen Thomas laments the pressure on reporters not to appear unpatriotic by questioning the motives for the war and how she has become persona non grata with the administration. Among others interviewed are author Ron Suskind, Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid, historian-blogger Juan Cole, former New York Times correspondent Christopher Hedges, NPR's Deborah Amos, and Knight Ridder correspondent Hannah Allam. Editor of the highly acclaimedInto the Buzzsaw (2002), Borjesson once again shines a penetrating light on the failures and virtues of American journalists at this crucial time. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Born in Washington, DC, Kristina Borjesson grew up in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She returned to the US permanently after attending college. She has been an investigative reporter for thirty years and became a media critic fifteen years ago when she was censored for the first time. Her experience is detailed in her first book, "Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press" which won the National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and the Independent Publishers Award. "Buzzsaw" is also a New York Public Library "Books to Remember" selection. Borjesson's second book, "Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11, Top Journalists Speak Out" also won the Independent Publishers Award. Her third book, "The Reptile Club Librarian" is her first work of fiction.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By C. Watson on November 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whatever your political views, if you ever wonder why what is reported in the news media doesn't seem to track with reality, this is an interesting book on the subject. As one reviewer noted, the questions are pretty leading (even obnoxious) at times, and the editor's biases are unquestionable. However, in fairness some of the "answers" dodge fairly straightforward and important questions. The insights as to how journalists cover major events are worth these minor complaints. How information is gathered and presented is a vital element of our society, and this book is an important contribution to understanding what is flawed in that process.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Isaksson on September 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Quite frankly, I don' think I've ever read a books as important as Feet to the Fire. At least not while trying to make sense of the contemporary conflict between the West (i.e. North America) and the Middle East with its numerous Muslim countries and inhabitants.

In this thorough 627 pages long book, Kristina Borjesson interviews the key players in the North American journalism and media scene. And she does so using straight-forward and honest questions. Except the current war against Iraq, which dominates the greater part of the book, other things such as the Bush administration, news reporting in the aftermath of 9/11, censorship in the media, and much, MUCH more. She's never afraid to ask both controversial and troubling questions, in other words those very questions that many people have been thinking about but never given an answer to. And luckily for us, the interviewees are willing to answer.

Of the book's more than 600 pages, most contains paragraph after paragraph of useful information. It goes without saying that a complete summary of a book with a scale as massive as this one can never be accomplished in a short book review, but one thing is certain: in case you do manage to read the entire thing you'll get a new and sometimes very troubling look at the state of world politics and warfare. Forget the impersonal images you've seen in the news and never mind the stale reporting coming out of most newspapers: here you'll hear from the people who've actually been there, who've been in the heat of gruesome battle; the people who'll tell you just how tragic this reality really is.

I could spend the rest of the night talking about all the big names and all the important stories found in the book, but then this review would probably never come to an end.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These interviews with top journalists about the conditions they work(ed) under in Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq are enlightening. It becomes clear that corporate concerns do bias the news we are allowed to see. That is why a variety of viewpoints is essential. A good introduction to the practice of journalism when the country is at war.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark Watterson on June 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I must say, I had higher expectations when I read this book. Nevertheless, we can't blame editor Kristina Borjesson. The book consists of a number of chapters divided by individual interviews of 21 "most distinguished" journalists. The questions, centered around the media drumbeat for the Iraq War, are all asked by KB, and while they are fairly tough enough, the responses are, quite frankly, lame. These journalists have no iota of a notion of holding themselves accountable for one of the biggest atrocities that mankind is capable of committing-War! KB probes and probes, but most of these shills just don't get it. I was particularly disgusted at the raw naivety of Ted Koppel. This guy is NOT looking out for America. He's looking out for his paycheck. There were a few journalists who gave some good genuine answers like James Bamford and the Harper's reporter, John MacArthur. But more importantly, there is a lesson here, and that lesson is that YOU, American citizen, have to use your OWN critical thinking and ask the tough questions because the mainstream media has profits to make and they don't maximize those pathological profits in an era of peacetime status quo...Now, take a look back in history and notice the same irresponsible journalism surrounding WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, etc...infinity...hundreds of thousands of American soldier deaths (and civilian)...for nothing...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Baker on January 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
You might well assume that a 2005 collection of interviews with journalists would be irrelevant in 2010, given how much has changed in the interim. But reading Feet to the Fire, I was struck by how many really important and timeless themes come out from these surprisingly candid assessments of the craft by some of its top practitioners. Kristina Borjesson interviewed figures such as Ted Koppel, Helen Thomas, and Ron Suskind at a time when journalists were coming to terms with the full scope of the lawlessness and deceit that characterized the George W. Bush administration--and with the failures of the media to do its job in bringing the truth of the situation to the American people.

Sometimes, the observations from the featured journalists are self-serving, but the bulk of what they have to say--about everything from the influence of sophisticated propaganda in shaping public opinion to the proper role of the media during wartime--will surprise and sometimes astound. It's especially compelling where reporters take their own employers to task for contributing to the mess, as does Washington Post national security correspondent Walter Pincus. Or when a Ted Koppel is willing to put some of the blame where it belongs--on an incurious and lazy audience.

Feet to the Fire should be standard issue in classrooms, but, more, it is something that will enlighten all thinking people. Anyone interested in finding new and better ways to explain our times would do well to read this book.

[Russ Baker is author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years]
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