Academic journal article Journalism History

Electronic Media Reviews -- Television and the Presidency (Three-Part Series) Produced by Sander Vanocur

Academic journal article Journalism History

Electronic Media Reviews -- Television and the Presidency (Three-Part Series) Produced by Sander Vanocur

Article excerpt

"Television and the Presidency." Videotape presentation available from The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

Television journalist Sander Vanocur has produced a three-part series that addresses the relationship between television and the men who have occupied the White House. Built on discussions with former and current White House press secretaries as well as journalists who have covered the beat, the series does a competent job of supporting and illustrating its major points with a balance of archival videotape, film, and still photos.

The first part examines how television has changed the nature of the way the president communicates with the public, asserting that television, a medium that is built on entertainment and turns everything it presents into entertainment, has forced the president to become an entertainer himself. John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, whom Vanocur dubs the only successful television presidents, both possessed demeanors that played well to the cameras, with Reagan especially well-suited to presiding over staged, visually powerful news events.

The second segment examines the televisual problems of those presidents who came between. For example, Lyndon Johnson -- a compelling man in person -- was awkward in front of the cameras, and further suffered from the television images of the Vietnam conflict. Richard Nixon's undoing, according to the series, was not so much the initial coverage of the Watergate break-in and cover-up, done mostly in print, but of the televised hearings that began the following year. Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush all suffered from problems that grew from unflattering televised images. …

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