Cover image for Don't shoot the messenger : how our growing hatred of the media threatens free speech for all of us
Don't shoot the messenger : how our growing hatred of the media threatens free speech for all of us
Sanford, Bruce W.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
257 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN4888.P82 S26 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A media attorney and authority on First Amendment law argues that the public's growing disenchantment with the media could erode Americans' constitutional freedoms.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sanford, an attorney who specializes in media and First Amendment law, is concerned that "at a time when the new world information order calls for a brave adaptation of existing First Amendment law to the possibilities of a new age, the expansion of First Amendment rights has not just ground to a halt but is actually retreating." He concedes that there are plenty of reasons for the public to be angry at "the media," from traditional complaints about sensationalism, bias, and feeding frenzies to the perceived transformation of journalism's public service function into mere public relations. But the "canyon of distrust" he describes denies the public information, whether the issue is TV crews riding along with police or which of the Cincinnati Enquirer allegations on Chiquita brands were true, even though the reporting was based on illegally obtained voicemails. Sanford has solid advice for the media on producing a quality journalistic product; he urges the public to lower its expectations and recognize that our own voyeurism contributes to media madness. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sanford assumes the burden of defending the media in this passionate but unfocused analysis of journalism and its discontents. A noted lawyer specializing in media and the First Amendment, Sanford examines how the judicial system, fueled by public sentiment, has slowly withdrawn the First Amendment protections on which serious investigative journalism depends. To illustrate his claim that litigationÄor even the threat of itÄis muzzling the press, Sanford discusses several recent cases, including the $10 million settlement Chiquita Brands won from the Gannett Co. after the Cincinnati Enquirer, one of Gannett's newspapers, admitted that a reporter had used illegal means to obtain information when writing an article about Chiquita's business practices. The media, Sanford argues, is headed toward self-censorship, which leaves it with nothing to fill the country's pages and airwaves other than the fluff and sensationalism with which the public claims to be fed up. These arguments are persuasiveÄwhen they can be found. Unfortunately, Sanford buries his best thinking in a blizzard of tangents and digressions that do little to advance his central concerns. Did he really need a whole chapter on Gary Hart's former "scandal kitten," Donna Rice? It's as if he's written two books: one about why Americans hate the media and another about how the press is acquiescing to the erosion of the First Amendment. Succeeding fully at neither task, he also fails to integrate the two issues into a persuasive commentary on the state of the American media. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Polls show that the American public increasingly resents and distrusts the mass media. Sanford, a media lawyer and expert on First Amendment law, argues that this trend encourages the courts and media organizations to back away from aggressive protection of constitutional press freedoms. He begins with the recent Gannett payment of $10 million to Chiquita and its "renouncing" a series about the banana company published in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Much of the series was probably true, says Sanford, but Gannett wanted to avoid costly litigation. Mixing anecdotes and court cases, this well-written book traces changes in public attitudes from the 1970s to the present. Sanford illustrates how press sensationalism and bias have legitimately angered the public. He challenges media organizations and the public to reconsider the role of a free press in a democracy. For public and academic libraries.ÄJudy Solberg, George Washington Univ., Takoma Park, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologue: A Dangerous New Seasonp. 1
1 The Canyon of Distrustp. 11
Part 1 Origins and Causes
2 From Benchley to Brill, Luce to Levinp. 29
3 Dan Quayle Meet Hillary Clintonp. 56
4 The Girl from Yesterdayp. 73
5 The Public Service Quotientp. 87
Part 2 Unintended Consequences
6 The "Ride-Along"p. 123
7 A Fine Day for the Governmentp. 150
8 "Hello, Houston. We Have a Problem"p. 174
9 The Credibility Breakfastp. 195
Notesp. 205
Bibliographyp. 227
Acknowledgmentsp. 241
Indexp. 243

Google Preview