Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Press and the Omnipresent President; the President, as Showman, Is Bypassing the Press

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Press and the Omnipresent President; the President, as Showman, Is Bypassing the Press

Article excerpt

The president, as showman, is bypassing the press

WHAT ABOUT A presidential ticket of Clint Eastwood and Michael Jordan?

That is a ticket that personality and money would make possible, given the overexposure of President Clinton by today's mass media, according to Tom Wicker, former reporter, editor and columnist for the New York Times.

Wicker was one of eight journalists speaking at a recent Ethics in the Media conference at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind.

"We see too much of presidents these days," Wicker said, adding that most Americans see more of the president than they do the mayor of their town.

People will want a change in presidents in 1996, not because they want something better but because they want something different, he said, and that might mean an Eastwood-Jordan ticket based on personality and money.

Wicker also decried the "electronic town hall" as bypassing the press and the Congress, including "traditional TV news."

He said that the press at its best provides a focus on issues to make distinctions for what is best for the public. He added that he was "wary of raw public opinion" and asked what might have happened if there had been 200 million electronic responses to such questions as whether gays should be allowed in the military, or whether an energy tax is needed, or - in the days of FDR - whether America should arm for World War II.

He also answered an emphatic "no" to the question of whether or not the public asked better questions of presidential candidates than do reporters.

"There are some important questions which the press have studied, they know more about, and they can ask better questions," he said.

Susan Swain, senior vice president for C-SPAN, saw it differently.

"If you didn't like '92, you're going to hate '96," she said, adding that she was troubled by a quote attributed to John Chancellor, former TV news anchor, that "serious questioning couldn't be turned over to the people."

More than once, the conference addressed who should do "serious questioning" and who does and does not do it?

Talk-show democracy is a driverless vehicle which anyone with money can commandeer," said Howard Fineman, chief political correspondent for Newsweek. He worries that there is no centralized source of information such as Walter Cronkite anymore, but said that it is probably a good thing.

Later, Tamara Haddad, executive producer of Larry King Live, talked about King covering politics as "another way of covering the story, complementing the other media. …

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


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.