By Neil Henry
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Extra resources for American Carnival: Journalism under Siege in an Age of New Media
Several months earlier that year, in January, the Monica Lewinsky scandal had broken, bringing with it a national frenzy for news related to the presidency and the brewing constitutional crisis between Congress, the judiciary, and the White House over President Bill Clinton’s sexual affair. In my lecture course that semester, I had been referencing the Clinton scandal and the front-page headlines it was generating, using it as an educational wedge to inform students about a wide variety of issues, from the impeachment process, the history of special counsels, and the grand jury system to the perils of anonymous sourcing and the growing inﬂuence of new, Web-based, non-mainstream information sources.
Do you have any regrets at all about it? I think that, you know, we have to be a little careful. I mean, maybe the worst thing I could say is that we were possibly just a little too successful here. A little too convincing, a little too realistic. Yeah. 30 36 American Carnival In replies amounting to truly acrobatic feats of convoluted logic, the Newsweek editor explained to the public that the magazine’s journalists certainly had “no intention” of deceiving citizens by concocting and publishing the phony image as if it were the real thing and insisted that the only wrong to which she was willing to admit was not an ethical “transgression” per se, but more a minor error in judgment.
Being in the ‘real world’ has shown beyond a doubt how much of journalism is colored by bias, by organizational limitations. . ” She recalled that the only time she’d heard PR discussed in journalism school was in a generalized con- 26 American Carnival struct, with journalists as gatekeepers of truth and PR as simply an entity to avoid. “But that isn’t reality,” she continued. “The truth is that sophisticated public relations professionals guard almost every beat— from politics to business to entertainment—and rarely can you truly circumvent them.