CRITICAL ACCLAIM for
Coloring the News:
“Many reporters, editors and publishers will not want to hear what McGowan has to say in COLORING THE NEWS…a magnificent collection of awkward facts, troubling arguments and unfashionable opinion [that] reveals a cloud of dubious orthodoxy behind the ostensibly just pursuit of diversity in the news and the newsroom…The irony here is that McGowan’s charges do not disclose an incorrigibly liberal press, as conservatives would charge, but rather an illiberal press, which works to restrict the free market of ideas.”
Washington Post Bookworld
“If I were still teaching journalism, we'd spend time on George Seldes, I.F. Stone, Murray Kempton, Jimmy Breslin, Dorothy Rabinowitz and Bob Herbert. Of the assigned books, one would be mandatory: COLORING THE NEWS
by William McGowan.”
The Village Voice
“[A] scathing report on media political correctness and its accompanying distortions of reality…[COLORING THE NEWS] will persuade most readers--possibly even some dug-in correctniks--that something has gone seriously wrong in our country’s news rooms, now massively committed to the ideology of diversity.”
Wall Street Journal
“Certain to raise lots of hackles...McGowan has focused attention on important and troubling issues.”
Columbia Journalism Review
“COLORING THE NEWS is fascinating...pick it up.”
The O’Reilly Factor
“I’ve found great resonance in [COLORING THE NEWS]. As someone who said for many years that political correctness is all about elevating sensitivity over truth, I think [McGowan has] hit a nerve.”
MORE . . .
merica is at a demographic and public policy crossroads. But just when information about its changing national identity needs to be robust, knowledgeable and honest, the ongoing media crusade for diversity has made American journalism weaker, particularly on complex stories involving race, gay rights, feminism, affirmative action and immigration. Encouraging a narrow orthodoxy that restricts debate and affirms identity politics, this crusade has fostered a journalistic climate in which important reporting is often skewed; facts that call into question a preconceived, pro-diversity script get short shrift; and double standards that favor “oppressed” groups over others become the norm.
This is the provocative argument that drives William McGowan’s Coloring the News, a brave, searching work that examines journalism’s most controversial issue. Depicting how a well-intentioned attempt to accommodate minorities and minority views has been infected by political correctness, McGowan gives a fascinating insider’s analysis of what stories get reported in the “elite” media and how. Along the way he dissects how the press “mistold” California’s Proposition 209 vote, the alleged “racist” burnings of black churches in the south, the military’s ongoing problems with the integration of women and gays, the consequences of a chaotic immigration policy, and other key stories.
McGowan subjects the journalism of the New York Times, the Washington Post and other prestigious news organizations to careful analysis in showing how the quest for “diversity” has influenced not only editorial policy but news gathering itself. The diversity that has seized hold of the nation’s newsrooms does not value true diversity of opinion, he maintains, but instead promotes one-sided reporting-by-the-numbers.
McGowan highlights the clumsy bureaucratic instruments some news organizations have institutionalized for monitoring racial, ethnic and sexual fairness. (One of his case histories shows how the executives of the Gannett chain of newspapers have used a system for evaluating their editors and reporters according to how many minority faces appeared in photographs and how many minority voices were quoted in news stories.) He also examines the climate of righteous denial and moral preening that discourages the journalistic establishment from needed self-criticism.
Coloring the News is as bold in examining the political impact such skewed coverage has had as it is in showing the sources of this distortion. Ironically, McGowan points out, the crusade has had unintended consequences for the very constituent groups and progressive political causes that diversity was supposed to help. Chief among the casualties are the intellectual and electoral viability of liberalism, as well as the credibility and financial health of the media itself, which have been repeatedly embarrassed by biased reporting and out-of-touch editorializing rooted in unexamined, pro-diversity assumptions. He also shows how the perception of bias in the "mainstream" media has fueled the rise of alternatives such as talk radio and Fox News.
McGowan raises questions that the journalistic establishment is reluctant to engage but which any thinking person—liberal or conservative—should take seriously. Coloring the News is a book that will be as fiercely debated among the media elite as it will be satisfying to millions of ordinary news consumers perplexed by the way the press has misreported the most significant stories of the last decade.
William McGowan is the author of Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy of Sri Lanka (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). He has reported for Newsweek International and the BBC and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review and other national publications. A regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, he is currently a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He lives in New York City.
ACCLAIM for William McGowan’s last book, Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy of Sri Lanka (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux)