Playing the Game: The Presidential Rhetoric of Ronald Reagan

By Mary E. Stuckey | Go to book overview
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Chapter 1
Ronald Reagan and the National Media

INTRODUCTION

Perhaps the single best-known feature of the Reagan presidency is his extraordinary success with the U.S. media. Labeled the "Great Communicator" and the "Teflon President," Reagan's reputation as a master of imagery far exceeds his reputation as a master of substance. Hand in hand with this reputation, however, comes criticism of the national media, those cowardly members of the Washington media corps who have somehow "let him get away with it." There is a feeling that if only the media had done their job, the public perception of the Reagan presidency would be very different. Clearly, Reagan's relationship with the national media is an important aspect of his rhetorical success. This chapter presents an analysis of that relationship by examining both the institutional and rhetorical aspects of Reagan's dealing with the White House media corps. It is unlike the other analytic chapters in this volume in that the data are from every year of Reagan's presidency and focus on thematic and tactical concerns, rather than change and develop- ment over time.

Ithiel de Sola Pool describes "the whole relationship of reporter and politician" as one that "resembles a bad marriage. They cannot live without each other, nor can they live without hostility. . . . [I]t is conflict within a shared system." 1 There is

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