Kathryn J. McGarrMay 19, 2023
City of Newsmen
Public Lies and Professional Secrets in Cold War Washington
University of Chicago Press 2022
Kathryn McGarr’s City of Newsmen: Public Lies and Professional Secrets in Cold War Washington (U Chicago Press, 2022) explores foreign policy journalism in Washington during and after World War II—a time supposedly defined by the press’s blind patriotism and groupthink. McGarr reveals, though, that D.C. reporters then were deeply cynical about government sources and their motives, but kept their doubts to themselves for professional, social, and ideological reasons. The alliance and rivalries among these reporters constituted a world of debts and loyalties: shared memories of wartime experiences, shared frustrations with government censorship and information programs, shared antagonisms, and shared mentors.
McGarr shows how this small, tight-knit elite of white male reporters suppressed their skepticism to help the United States build a permanent national security apparatus and a shared, constructed reality on the meaning of the Cold War. Utilizing archival sources, she demonstrates how self-aware these reporters were as they negotiated for access, prominence, and, yes, the truth—even as they denied those things to their readers.
James Kates is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has worked as an editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other publications.