The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories That Shape the Political World

By Kathleen Hall Jamieson; Paul Waldman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Press as Amateur
Psychologist, Part II

The day-to-day reporting of the 2000 campaign seldom attempted to relate evaluations of each candidate's psyche to what he might or might not do in office, or had done in office to that point. Instead, each candidate's character was explored for its own sake. Ultimately, the dominant press frame in the 2000 election hurt Gore more than Bush.

A Los Angeles Times article from the day before the election encapsulates press coverage of the 2000 campaign:

To a great extent, the descriptions that voters [emphasis added] hung on the candidates at the beginning of the campaign have held until its end. Bush is seen as the more likable, adept at discussing education policy yet lacking experience in a wide range of presidential demands. Gore is the experienced issues expert, versed in the intricacies of children's health insurance but saddled with questions about his trustworthiness … Victory is likely to hinge less on tax proposals and Social Security platforms than which element voters are best able to live with: questions of Bush's inexperience or Gore's truthfulness. 1

Gore's flaw was reduced to trustworthiness, while Bush's was reduced to lack of knowledge, translated ultimately as inexperience. Inexperience can be remedied by experience or by marshaling a cabinet and selecting a vice president with experience. A lack of trust, on the other hand, is much harder to remedy. In addition, surveys of journalists have shown that honesty is the most important quality reporters believe a

-41-

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The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories That Shape the Political World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xi
  • The Press Effect *
  • Chapter 1 - The Press as Storyteller 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Press as Amateur Psychologist, Part I 24
  • Chapter 3 - The Press as Amateur Psychologist, Part II 41
  • Chapter 4 - The Press as Soothsayer 74
  • Chapter 5 - The Press as Shaper of Events 95
  • Chapter 6 - The Press as Patriot 130
  • Chapter 7 - The Press as Custodian of Fact 165
  • Conclusion 194
  • Notes 199
  • Index 209
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