Taking a 21st century look at the lasting effects of Nixon-era attacks on journalism
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.