Foreign Policy and the Press: An Analysis of the New York Times' Coverage of U.S. Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy and the Press: An Analysis of the New York Times' Coverage of U.S. Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy and the Press: An Analysis of the New York Times' Coverage of U.S. Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy and the Press: An Analysis of the New York Times' Coverage of U.S. Foreign Policy

Synopsis

This study challenges the notions that the U.S. press is either an active participant in the foreign policy process or an instrument of presidential manipulation. Based on a content analysis of New York Times' reporting of five recent foreign policy disasters, Berry explores the thesis that the press accepts administration assumptions on foreign policy matters, but only until the policy fails. The work also addresses the differences between domestic and foreign policy reporting, and compares the work of foreign-based correspondents with that of U.S.-based reporters.

Excerpt

This study challenges some conventional wisdom about the press.

The various schools of thought that constitute the conventional wisdom seemed off the mark when what I read about the press did not mesh with what I read in the press.

One school of thought portrays the press as a player or participant in the foreign policy process. For members of this school, the press plays the role of the fourth branch of government. Journalists influence policy. Sometimes the press is so vigorous--a few would say, so biased--that government officials complain that their foreign policy is being sabotaged. One remembers, for example, John F. Kennedy pleading in vain with The New York Times publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, that one of his reporters, David Halberstam, should be reassigned. Reporting from the battlefields, Halberstam described the failure of U.S. advisors to get the South Vietnamese to fight the Vietcong. Kennedy thought Halberstam was undermining his policy.

Yet, over the years I developed the impression that major U.S. newspapers are more than fair to presidents and their foreign policies. They appear to report foreign policy proposals, the policies themselves, and the results rather straight. They seem to report objectively even when I judge that the policies are either stupid, counterproductive, or disengenuous.

A contrary school of thought holds that government manipulates the press. Officials stage events, leak selective information, cover-up facts behind a wall of secrecy, overwhelm the media with barrages of press releases, and, yes, lie occasionally to the point that the press becomes putty in the hands of the president and his legion of media managers.

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.