Persuasive Encounters: Case Studies in Constructive Confrontation

By Gary C. Woodward | Go to book overview

A FINAL THOUGHT

Finally, beyond the limited effects of this one program, it is worth noting that the general form of the information-oriented talk show speaks to a fundamental change in the way issues are framed for the American public. Too often analysts and journalists still proceed on the assumption that policy advocacy is largely the domain of legal or official advocates communicating through the familiar channels of the newspaper and the newscast. Traditional news formulas for policy discussion usually give preference to professional advocates on issues: politicians, industry leaders, academics, and others. What has changed? For the average television viewer, the costs and consequences of public issues -- ranging from the use of state funds for religious schools to the virtues of rapprochement with the Soviet Union -- are increasingly represented in the responses of guests who appear on programs like "Donahue" as victims or advocates. We are attracted to these populist sources because of their willingness to "witness" in behalf of the traumatic or therapeutic consequences of public policy. These relatively new shows point to the fact that our civil life is bound up in a new hybrid forum that owes as much to teleevangelism as to political journalism.


NOTES
1
Michael J. Arlen, The Camera Age: Essays in Television ( New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1981), p. 318.
2
"The Talk of Television", Newsweek October 29, 1979, p. 76.
3
Brian G. Rose, "The Talk Show", in TV Genres: A Handbook and Reference Guide, ed. Brian G. Rose ( Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), pp. 330-331.
4
Marvin Kitman, "Keeping Up with America", The New Leader June 18, 1979, p. 25.
5
"The Talk of Television", p. 77.
6
Nan Robertson, "Donahue vs. Winfrey: A Clash of Talk Titans", New York Times February 1, 1988, p. C30.
7
Phil Donahue, Donahue: My Own Story ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), pp. 212-213.
8
Ibid., pp. 99-100. This claim might be challenged now, given the intense competition for audience share that exists between syndicated talk programs. Any "snapshot" of program topics presents a mixed picture. For example, a consecutive five-day period between October 16 and October 20, 1989, included the following scheduled Donahue titles for New York City's WNBC: Abortion for Rape and Incest Victims," Sexual Minorities," Rules for Marriage," How Far People Will Go for Entertainment," and Female Sexual Stereotypes." For the same week and time period, New York's WCBS offered Geraldo with these scheduled topics: Crimes of Madness," Vigilantes," Rich Women Addicted to Cocaine," and Lisa Lisa, Cool Moe Dee, and Paul Anthony." The Tuesday Geraldo segment was replaced by a network program. (Source: "Television", New York Times, October 15, 1989, sec. 11.)
9
This is a paraphrase of an assertion that Friendly has made many times and is

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Persuasive Encounters: Case Studies in Constructive Confrontation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Title Page *
  • 1 - The Politics of Confrontation: From John Lennon to Wendell Phillips 1
  • Notes 23
  • 2 - Persuasive Encounters: A Theoretical Overview 27
  • Notes 49
  • 3 - Edward Kennedy: Behind Enemy Lines 53
  • Notes 75
  • 4 - "This Just Might Do Nobody Any Good": Edward R. Murrow and the News Directors 77
  • Notes 96
  • 5 - The Theater of Conflict: "Donahue" in Russia 99
  • Notes 129
  • 6 - Thomas Szasz and the War against Coercive Psychiatry 133
  • Notes 159
  • 7 - "How Am I Doing?": Gorilla Politics in the Town Meetings of Ed Koch 163
  • Notes 185
  • Selected Bibliography 189
  • Index 193
  • About the Author *
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