Frustrated, McClure’s best employees left and formed The American Magazine, which soon floundered. An age of journalistic hegemony was passing.

What are the most potent lessons of The Bully Pulpit? Not just that editors should treat their reporters with tender loving care, though that is a seductive prescription for journalistic success. Goodwin says that she hopes her tale somehow rouses readers to “demand the actions necessary to bring our country closer to its ancient ideals,” a vague wish that brands her as the gentlest and most allusive of muckrakers. 

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Julia M. Klein is a cultural reporter and critic in Philadelphia and a CJR contributing editor.