Best of 2008: Megan Garber

Garber picks her top stories from 2008

1) The People vs. Jeremiah Wright The media’s general condemnation of Jeremiah Wright wasn’t just about race or politics or the intersection between the two. It was also about dissent. The treatment of Wright, I thought, highlighted just how uncomfortable—distressingly uncomfortable—we’ve become with ideas that challenge the mainstream.

2) Notes on a Scandal Remember twelve or so Big Political Scandals ago, when Eliot Spitzer was the shamed governor du jour? During SpitzerGate, I was fascinated by the way the media covered Silda Wall Spitzer…and struck by how many of them attacked the governor’s wife for literally and figuratively “standing by her man” during the scandal.

3) Of Love and Other Demons The media’s affinity for Obama has been part of the president-elect’s mythology since long before “in the tank” became a nearly permanent preface to his name—and since long before the Illinois senator declared his presidential candidacy. This piece considered the wider implications of the press’s (in)famous enthusiasm for Obama. (It also gave me an excuse to describe the future president as “a Men’s Vogue-certified hottie.” So.)

4) Barack Obama, “Stevie Wonder Geek” After a Rolling Stone interview revealed then-candidate Obama’s musical preferences (Miles Davis! Yo-Yo Ma! Springsteen!), I wondered why, exactly, we care so much about what’s on our politicians’ iPods.

5) Moonlight and Valentino In which I defended Sarah Palin’s freedom to shop.

6) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantyhose This summer, Michelle Obama embarked on a series of appearances—on The View, in the pages of US Weekly, and elsewhere—that came to be known as her “Reintroduction Tour.” The appearances, apparently designed to “soften” her in the view of the voting public, emphasized Michelle’s femininity—her clothes, her kids, her shopping and cooking habits—and, in that, they reemphasized the complications of the relationship between strong women and the media.

7) Shrill-ary Assorted thoughts about Hillary Clinton’s voice.

8) Harry Situation In February, news broke that Britain’s third-in-line-to-the-throne, Prince Harry, had been serving in active duty in Afghanistan since December—and that the British army had brokered a deal with British and other media not to report about Harry’s deployment until he returned home in April. A look at the ethics of the agreement.

9) Notes from the Pig Sty LipstickOnAPigGate was quite possibly the lowest point of the media coverage of the 2008 campaign. In this, I gave it the old wag-of-the-finger.

10) Breaking! CJR Has the Next Issue of the Montgomery County Bulletin Aaaaand…fun with plagiarism.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.