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.
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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 BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved