Political Communication Ethics: An Oxymoron?

Article excerpt

Political Communication Ethics: An Oxymoron? Robert E. Denton Jr., ed. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000. 288 pp. $69.50 hbk. $19.95 pbk.

This edited volume delves into the issue of the often high-pitched rhetoric of politics. Sometimes the speech that is analyzed is what the media report; other chapters look at media practices. Running through the ten chapters by various authors, almost all of whom should be very familiar to students of political communication, is a concern for fairness by politicians themselves and in the practices of various media: newspaper, television, the Internet.

The chapters, some of which appeared in earlier works in modified form, and their authors, are in order of presentation: "The Ethical Performances of Candidates in American Presidential Campaign Dramas," by Bruce E. Gronbeck; "Images, Issues and Political Structure: A Framework for Judging the Ethics of Campaign Discourse," by Ronald Lee; "Electronic Democracy, Virtual Politics, and Local Communities," by Steven R. Goldzwig and Patricia A. Sullivan; "Ethical Considerations of Civil Discourse: The Implications of the Rise of 'Hate Speech,"' by Rita Kirk Whillock; "Dangers of 'Teledemocracy': How the Medium of Television Undermines American Democracy," by Robert E. Denton Jr.; "Narrative Form and the Deceptions of Modern Journalism,"by Gary C.Woodward; "Ethics and Political Advertising," by Lynda Lee Kaid; "Soft Money and Hard Choices: The Influence of Campaign Finance Rules on Campaign Communication Strategy," by Clifford A. Jones; "Internet Ethics," by Gary W. Selnow; "Epilogue: Constitutional Authority, Public Morality, and Politics," by Denton.

None of the chapters answer the question asked in the book's title. …