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W. Joseph Campbell's myth-busting book

Getting It Wrong debunks 10 prominent media-driven myths, including some of the most cherished stories American journalism tells about itself.

Media-driven myths are stories about and/or by the news media that are widely believed and often retold, but which, under scrutiny, prove to be apocryphal or wildly exaggerated.

Read Chapter One

wins SPJ research award

Getting It Wrong won the 2010 award for Research about Journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Media-driven myths debunked in Getting It Wrong include the notion that the news media brought down Richard Nixon's corrupt presidency, ended Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-communist witchhunt, and brought on the Spanish-American War.

What THE critics saY

  • "Persuasive and entertaining ... With old-school academic detachment, Mr. Campbell, a communications professor at American University, shows how the fog of war, the warp of ideology and muffled skepticism can transmute base journalism into golden legend." — Wall Street Journal

  • "This may be the best book about journalism in recent memory; it is certainly the most subversive." — Commentary magazine

  • "I especially admire the disciplined way Campbell corrects so many flawed records without taking cheap shots at the perpetrators ... Of course when you do such a good job punishing the error, as Campbell does, you don't need to bother with the errant." — Slate.com

  • "An exquisitely researched and lively look at an industry that too often shines the light on itself more than it does on events and public figures." — Denver Post

  • Getting It Wrong reinforces the necessity of healthy skepticism; a commitment to fully understanding the implications of ones research; and the importance of cultivating diverse, credible sources and viewpoints for probing, quality journalism. ... In each chapter, Campbell delivers pithy, well-researched correctives for each sensational claim. — JHistory

Mythbusting At the smithsonian

Campbell discussed Getting It Wrong at a program at the Smithsonian. Here is video of his talk.



Listen here to the author's discussion about prominent media-driven myths, including the notion that Walter Cronkite's 1968 report on Vietnam altered U.S. policy, turned public opinion against the war, and prompted Lyndon Johnson not to seek reelection to the presidency.

Follow the author on Twitter @wjosephcampbell