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SINGAPORE — Everyone knows the American news media is proud as papa of its reputation as the storied giant-killer of politicians and as the watchdog of government. Aggressive journalism decades ago by The Washington Post and other major media institutions actually dethroned an elected president, Richard Nixon. This was the most iconic example of adversarial American journalism in action.

Courageous reporting of the grim reality of the Vietnam War by dogged U.S. correspondents emboldened the antiwar movement and eventually helped rally public opinion behind the war critics. More recently, reported scandals in the U.S. news media have dramatically shortened the careers of senators, governors, mayors, religious leaders, investment bankers, other pillars of the establishment, and organized-crime figures.

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