The Media, the President, and Public Opinion: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Drug Issue, 1984-1991

The Media, the President, and Public Opinion: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Drug Issue, 1984-1991

The Media, the President, and Public Opinion: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Drug Issue, 1984-1991

The Media, the President, and Public Opinion: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Drug Issue, 1984-1991

Synopsis

Using a broadened conceptualization of agenda setting, this volume's objective is to examine the drug issue from mid-1984 to mid-1991 to determine how drug-related issues and events -- both real and fabricated -- and the primary agendas drove the issue over time. Based on this objective, four questions are posed:

• How did the media structure interpretations of drug issues and events?

• How did the president structure public relations interpretations and presentations of issue and event information over time?

• What were the interactions of the drug-issue agendas, the president's public relations agendas, the media, and the public, while controlling the policy agenda and a real-world measure of the severity of the drug problem?

• How did the relationships of these agendas differ during the Reagan and Bush presidencies?

These questions were addressed with detailed content analyses of the media agenda over time, the presidential public relations agenda over time, and a multivariate ARIMA analysis of the time series agendas. No previous studies to date have addressed and modeled these agendas simultaneously with ARIMA modeling methods.

Excerpt

"The drug problem illustrates how issues rise and fall almost capriciously on the agendas of news organizations, politicians and the public" (Barrett, 1990, p. 1). This was certainly the case of the drug issue from 1984 to 1991. Richard Nixon was incorrect in 1973; the United States had not turned the corner on drug addiction. The drug problem continued, in varying degrees, and caught the attention of the press, the president, and the public, in varying degrees, in the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s. A study of issue agendas in the United States indicates that drugs "have generally not been on the systemic agenda in this century, except for two periods: the late 1960s, and the late 1980s," and that "the second period corresponds to a much greater preoccupation with the problem than the first" (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993, p. 153).

The first major surge of national attention to drugs under President Reagan in the 1980s came with his emphasis on interdiction, enforcement, and punishment rather than education, and a similar tactic by President Bush followed his election in 1988. Others concurred with this view that the rise and fall of the issue relates to the concern and emphasis the president has given to the issue, as exemplified by the two presidents' wars on drugs (Barrett, 1990; Shannon, 1990). Others speculated that the issue was driven by the media: "Lacking any objective evidence of a drug epidemic, we must look to the media themselves to determine why the drug issue received such a concentrated amount of coverage in such a short time" (Kerr, 1986). Finally, others theorized that the public can only accommodate a limited number of agenda items, which, like billiard balls, can be knocked by the break of events from the table, and thus rely on the focus of the media, political leaders, and interest groups for their survival on the public agenda (Shaw & McCombs, 1989). This book examines the drug issue from mid-1984 to mid-1991 with a broadened conceptualization of agenda setting to determine how drug-related issues and events and the primary agendas drove the issue over time.

Agenda research has had two main research traditions since the 1980s: agenda setting, a process examined mostly by communication researchers through which . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.