‘Very few have balls’: How American news lost its nerve

May 03, 2024

ADOne recent example illustrates the difficulty of getting even a modestly negative revelation about a popular public figure into print. Esquire lost interest as the piece took on a critical tone. Darkening legal climateThe American right kicked off the assault on reporters who cross powerful people, beginning in earnest with Peter Thiel’s success in shuttering Gawker in 2016. “Balls = unemployment.”Celebrity controlThe rise of social media and celebrity-owned production companies has given the upper hand to stars who want to tell their own stories. “It’s just not worth it being in the ‘truth to power’ business if you’re going to be regulated,” said one prominent documentary producer.