Todd Gitlin

Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph. D. program in communications at Columbia University, has been writing frequently on media and the campaign for BillMoyers.com. His next book is a novel, The Opposition.

Recent Articles

All the President's Friends

“Like most people at the times,” New York Times executive editor Bill Keller told a Princeton gathering on November 14, “I am suffering from a serious case of Judy Miller fatigue.” Aren't we all? But before we succumb, a deeper look would be timely. The Miller case turns out to be part of an epidemic in need of a proper diagnosis. The very day Keller was criticizing Miller's WMD coverage while congratulating the paper for airing its dirty laundry, Bob Woodward, American journalism's knight in tarnished armor, was giving a deposition to the grand jury called by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. A couple of days later Woodward published a statement in The Washington Post -- one that read more like a legal-deposition-cum-bureaucratic memo than a journalistic report -- revealing that “current or former Bush administration officials” had, in a “casual and offhand” manner, told him about Joseph Wilson's wife and her CIA job in June 2003, before Wilson's famous Times op-ed and before...

All The President's Friends

“Like most people at the times,” New York Times executive editor Bill Keller told a Princeton gathering on November 14, “I am suffering from a serious case of Judy Miller fatigue.” Aren't we all? But before we succumb, a deeper look would be timely. The Miller case turns out to be part of an epidemic in need of a proper diagnosis. The very day Keller was criticizing Miller's WMD coverage while congratulating the paper for airing its dirty laundry, Bob Woodward, American journalism's knight in tarnished armor, was giving a deposition to the grand jury called by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. A couple of days later Woodward published a statement in The Washington Post -- one that read more like a legal-deposition-cum-bureaucratic memo than a journalistic report -- revealing that “current or former Bush administration officials” had, in a “casual and offhand” manner, told him about Joseph Wilson's wife and her cia job in June 2003, before Wilson's famous Times op-ed and before...

Who Gives a Flying Flag?

Looking at the reactions of the right-wingers to l'affaire Novak-Rove-Wilson-Plame, you'd have to conclude that, for them, national security is a sometime thing -- a talking point or a symbolic flourish, but not a real-world imperative involving actual lives, dangers, and government workings. The smears and (to be generous) fat, sloppy errors directed against former Ambassador Joseph Wilson pour forth as thick and fast as finger paint. The anticipatory excuses for Karl Rove -- who, if he did not commit actual crimes, may have at the least leaked classified information about Wilson's CIA–agent wife en route to the smears against Wilson -- pour forth just as thick, just as fast. When there's White House discipline to be maintained, who gives a flying flag about national security? Consider David Brooks, whom many persist (but why?) in thinking must know better. Brooks has echoed the White House line, persisting in the falsehood that Wilson credits Vice President Dick Cheney with sending the...

Hello, Henhouse? Fox Calling

“Should we have affirmative action for conservatives?” This question, arresting enough by itself, becomes all the more so when the “we” in that question is The New York Times . It cropped up during a January 17 meeting in a nicely paneled Times conference room, billed as an “informal forum” at which various Times editors and reporters sought the advice of five outsiders -- a journalism professor, a liberal freelance reporter, a conservative reporter, a conservative magazine editor, and me -- on the question of the “proper boundary between news and opinion in the news pages and a host of issues that arise from the debate … [including] whether these various forms confuse readers about whether the Times approaches news coverage fairly and without a specific, preconceived point of view,” in the words of the editor who summoned the meeting. The Times rethink is motivated by long-term management concerns about the paper's stagnant circulation and how to explain and reverse it. The youth...

Swifter Than Truth

Historians of the mad pageant in which Americans chose their president in 2004 will someday note with astonishment that the quote-unquote Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, many of its members inveterate liars more swift than truthful, succeeded in hijacking the presidential campaign for the better part of the month of August, nearly one-third of the total time left to John Kerry after his apparently triumphal convention. The story of how candidate Kerry miscalculated the explosive power of the Swifties' charges and thereby lost control of his campaign will someday be told, either in relief that the damage was eventually undone or dismay that it was not. The story of how journalists performed as accomplices to liars and half-truth tellers, thereby buying them piles of publicity that money couldn't have bought, can begin to be told now. How did it happen? And if journalists did escort the Swifties into the limelight with a bodyguard of publicity, why did they do that, and what should they...

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