David Greenberg

David Greenberg, a professor of journalism and media studies and of history at Rutgers University, is the author of Nixon's Shadow and Calvin Coolidge.

Recent Articles

Zealots of Our Time

In his new book, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, Jacob Heilbrunn examines the state of the neoconservative movement in the wake of the Iraq War.

They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons by Jacob Heilbrunn (Doubleday, 320 pages, $26.00) Not long ago the term "neoconservative" seemed ripe for retirement. The label was originally applied in the 1960s and 1970s to the ex-liberals (themselves ex-socialists) who turned halfway to the right after becoming disenchanted with the Great Society, left-wing politics, and the Democrats' post-Vietnam isolationism. Under Ronald Reagan, however, the neocons kept moving right and joined in a broad right-wing consensus, and by the 1990s it became hard to tell them apart from other Republicans. Did second-generation neocons such as Irving Kristol's son Bill -- baby boomers who never made any left-to-right voyage -- even warrant the moniker? The younger Kristol said he was "just a conservative." Despite some tensions that surfaced during George Bush Sr.'s presidency, Reagan's conservative coalition cohered, more or less, until midway through the current administration. Only with the...

Overheating: The Sequel

Is the growing corporate dominance of radio and TV stations, newspapers, and other media organs really that bad for society?

Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media by Eric Klinenberg (Metropolitan Books, 339 pages, $26.00) --- Rare is the book that changes your mind about a political issue. Before reading Eric Klinenberg's Fighting for Air , I shared the conventional wisdom that the growing corporate dominance of radio and TV stations, newspapers, and other media organs was bad for society, limiting the available range of news, opinion, and entertainment shows. Now, after finishing the book, I'm not so sure. Unfortunately, my uncertainty appears to be the opposite of what Fighting for Air intends to instill. The book is a trumpet's summons for protest against the monopolization of media outlets. But while it touts the seemingly virtuous goal of regulated competition, Fighting for Air blares its call so brassily that you wind up wondering if some of these questions aren't more complex. A sociologist at New York University, Klinenberg achieved renown in 2002 with his first book, Heat Wave: A...

Heroes, Weren't They?

The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff (Knopf, 518 pages, $30.00) On February 6, 1956, Peter Kihss of The New York Times was covering the enrollment of the first black student, Autherine Lucy, at the University of Alabama. Mobs of racist thugs swarmed the campus, harassing her whenever she left a classroom, and late that day they encircled an older black man who had come to drive Lucy home. Impulsively, Kihss moved to protect the driver, and when the crowd closed in, he abandoned journalistic protocol entirely. "I'm a reporter for The New York Times , and I've gotten a wonderful impression of the University of Alabama," he threatened. "Now I'll be glad to take on the whole student body, two at a time." The mob spared him, while Lucy scooted out the building's back door into a patrol car. As Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff show in their bracing new history, The Race Beat , the stakes of the civil-rights...

Red Parallels

The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism by Haynes Johnson ( Harcourt, 624 pages, $26.00 ) A major threat to the United States suddenly seizes national attention. Alongside some levelheaded responses, many public figures -- motivated by fear, displaced resentment, or opportunism -- magnify and exploit the menace in ugly ways. Pandering to an angry, chauvinistic populism, they brand opponents, especially liberals, as unmanly, naive, or traitorous. They scorn civil liberties as luxuries in a national crisis. Meanwhile, security drills and government advisories, designed to help citizens protect themselves, re-instill anxiety whenever relaxation promises to return. The news media, for their part, squirm under political pressure, with reporters taking refuge in a warped definition of “balance” that often gives slander or propaganda the same weight as the truth. So it was during the 1950s, and so it is today. Yet as the longtime Washington journalist Haynes Johnson notes in The Age of...

Only Yesterday

More Equal Than Others: America From Nixon to the New Century by Godfrey Hodgson ( Princeton University Press, 379 pages, $29.95 ) Restless Giant: The United States From Watergate to Bush v. Gore by James T. Patterson ( Oxford University Press, 448 pages, $35.00 ) Anyone wishing to understand the United States in the three decades after World War II would do well to start with two books: America in Our Time: From World War II to Nixon -- What Happened and Why (1976), by the veteran British journalist Godfrey Hodgson, and Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 (1996), by the historian James T. Patterson of Brown University. Both authors have now written sequels taking the story up to 2000, and the two pairs of books help to make sense not only of America's recent past but also of what continues to trouble us. Though not at odds with each other, the earlier two books are quite different. Hodgson, a longtime observer of the American scene, broke ground 30 years ago by offering...

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