The Six O'Clock Presidency: A Theory of Presidential Press Relations in the Age of Television

The Six O'Clock Presidency: A Theory of Presidential Press Relations in the Age of Television

The Six O'Clock Presidency: A Theory of Presidential Press Relations in the Age of Television

The Six O'Clock Presidency: A Theory of Presidential Press Relations in the Age of Television

Synopsis

Studying the increasingly powerful role television plays in the political process, Smoller offers a persuasive argument that the "big three" network coverage of the presidency is gradually eroding public support for and confidence in that office. This book argues that network coverage of the presidency is determined by the political, technical, and commercial nature of the medium itself, producing a bias toward negative coverage. Attempts by the White House to combat these negative portrayals by managing news coverage and isolating the president will subvert democratic values.

Excerpt

This book attempts to build an empirically based theory of television network news coverage of the U.S. Presidency. In building this argument I have tried to integrate several of the more important themes discussed in the expanding literature on the U.S. media: the emergence of television network news as the most important medium in U.S. politics; the corporate structure which underlies the ownership of the major media outlets; the impact of technological breakthroughs such as satellite communications, videotape, and mini-cameras; and the emergence of network correspondents and anchors as powerful political actors in their own right.

The argument advanced in these pages suggests that television news, the nation's primary source of information about the presidency, may contribute to the decline and fall of modern presidents. This argument could conceivably be used to justify the excesses and criminal acts of past administrations. Some may see this as an attack on this nation's commitment to a free and independent press. I intend it as neither. Nevertheless, I believe that citizens must be made aware of the deficiencies in the current relationship between the president and the most powerful communications medium known to man if that relationship is to advance democratic values.

I am especially grateful to Larry Dodd and Bruce Buchanan for the . . .

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