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

There’s a Logic to Trump’s War On the Media

Trump goes after the news media not because he thinks they’re strong, but because he thinks they’re weak and he can diminish them further.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
This article appears under the title, "Trump's Media War," in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine . Subscribe here . Donald Trump’s attacks on the news media since taking office have been so persistent, so over-the-top, so deranged—in a word, so Trumpian—that it’s not surprising to see a backlash. Journalists are denouncing Trump for his continuous stream of vitriol toward them. Newspapers and magazines are enjoying spikes in subscriptions and support. Around 200 activists even congregated in Times Square one Sunday in February to show solidarity with the press corps against Trump’s onslaught. The press’s job of keeping the public well informed about national and international affairs is no doubt harder than ever today. Trump’s eagerness to attack the media relentlessly and without restraint has made it harder still. But the ultimate reason that a demagogue like Trump mounts such crude, broad-brush attacks is that the...

Truth in Politics Now

Demanding that we seek out the truth is a start—but it is only a start. 

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This book review appears in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . T he New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom By Joel Simon 248 pp. Columbia Journalism Review $27.95 C ensors at Work: How States Shaped Literature By Robert Darnton 304 pp. Berrett-Koehler Publishers $27.95 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Moral Integrity By Charles Lewis 392 pp. PublicAffairs Books $28.99 “No one has ever doubted,” wrote Hannah Arendt, “that truth and politics are on rather bad terms with each other, and no one, as far as I know, has ever counted truthfulness among the political virtues.” In her essay “Truth and Politics” Arendt probed a series of questions that are every bit as relevant today as they were when she raised them in 1967. How much honesty should we expect from politicians? Can we trust that clear-cut facts will be believed in an age of mass media and ubiquitous public...

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...