Assault on the Media

The Nixon Years

New and expanded edition, Updated with Analysis of 21st Century Threats to Democracy

Subjects: Political Science, American Politics, Media Studies, Journalism, Political Communication
Ebook : 9780472221011, 570 pages, 2 photographs, 6 x 9, June 2024
Paperback : 9780472039227, 570 pages, 2 photographs, 6 x 9, June 2024
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Taking a 21st century look at the lasting effects of Nixon-era attacks on journalism

Table of contents

FOREWORD: The Assault on Journalism: Nixon’s Years and Beyond
ONE: Background for the Nixon Attitude
TWO: Prelude to the Assault
THREE: Year 1969
FOUR: Year 1970
FIVE: Year 1971
SIX: Year 1972
SEVEN: Years 1973–74
EIGHT: Effects of the Assault
NINE: Effects of the Assault Reconsidered
TEN: Afterword: The Glacial Pursuit of Rampant Authoritarianism
Documents of Significance, First Edition
Documents of Significance, Second Edition


Assault on the Media: The Nixon Years, New and Expanded Edition, uses a 21st century perspective to revaluate the media warfare of the late 1960s and 1970s and its lasting effects. Although it is well known Nixon reveled in his abrasive relationship with the press, documents published since that era reveal the motivations that drove members of the administration to divert attention from illegal, undemocratic, discriminatory, or mean-spirited approaches to governance.

Informed by a half-century of historical analyses and released documents, this expanded edition of William E. Porter’s award-winning Assault on the Media analyzes new documents of significance; synthesizes recent historical analyses; incorporates legal evaluations by journalism scholars; and traces how Nixon-era plans cultivated the divisive state of 21st-century society and amplified assaults on journalism. It also evaluates lasting concerns about the Supreme Court’s Pentagon Papers decision and journalists cited for contempt as a form of prior restraint; the currencies of power and race in protecting confidential sources; and regulatory decisions that hamper effective journalism. Assault on the Media not only documents the incidents and circumstances of governmental intimidation, harassment, and regulation of the news media during the Nixon presidency, but it offers insights into the long-term effects and their relevance today.

William E. Porter was Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Michigan. His research focused on the relationship between government and the media. 

Thomas A. Mascaro is Professor Emeritus in the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University. He co-founded the Documentary Division of the Broadcast Education Association and was elected to the Board of Directors for the American Journalism Historians Association, 2022–2025.