Media Myth Alert

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Nixon’s mythical ‘secret plan’ pledge for Vietnam invoked as taunt in Illinois politics

The “secret plan” anecdote is a dubious bit of popular history that can be too delicious to resist.

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Getting It Wrong update: Page proofs in

Page proofs of Getting It Wrong, my forthcoming book on media-driven myths, arrived just before Christmas. The pages look handsome. They’re set in a Sabon typeface, which stands out nicely. E…

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Watergate footnote: WaPo’s Pulitzer-winning entry included a false story

The latest burst of self-congratulatory hoopla about Watergate and the Washington Post subsided weeks ago, with the 50th anniversary of the foiled break-in that set off the country’s gravest…

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‘Getting It Wrong’ goes ‘On Point’

I suspect some media myths will prove resistant to thorough debunking.

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India high court order invokes phony Watergate line

Two Supreme Court judges in India last month turned to Watergate’s most famous made-up line in ordering an investigation into large sums of money believed stashed in banks abroad. The judges …

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Thoughts on why journalists can get it badly wrong

As I write in Getting It Wrong, breakdowns in communications do not let journalists off the hook for their inaccurate reporting about the horrific violence supposedly unleashed by Hurricane Katrina…

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Maddow cherry-picks to avoid correcting claim about Pentagon, Jessica Lynch

To cherry-pick is to be highly selective, to use facts that support one’s position while ignoring the confounding evidence. And that’s essentially what Rachel Maddow did on her MSNBC program last n…

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Just go, Rambo

At least one Connecticut newspaper is having some fun with the dissembling of U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal about what he did during the Vietnam War. The Republican American of Waterbury…

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Inflating the exploits of WaPo’s Watergate reporters

As it has receded in time and memory, the Watergate scandal of 1972-74 has become ever more prone to myth and misleading interpretation. That helps explain why Watergate’s dominant narrative …

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Embedded myths of journalism history

Popular media myths were in circulation over the weekend at the conference of journalism historians—signaling anew how embedded myths are in American media history and how difficult they can be to …