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

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

CHAPTER 6
The Press as Patriot

When President George W. Bush threw out the first ball at the third game of the World Series in New York City in October 2001, reporters could have written that Bush's well-placed throw reflected his love of the sport. After all, he was the owner of the Texas Rangers and as a child reportedly aspired to play professional ball. The reports could have suggested that presidents, including Bush, use appearances at sporting events to establish their identification with ordinary Americans and in particular to appeal to blue-collar men. Alternatively, the story could have averred that the time the President took in the days before the game to practice the pitch was evidence of a person whose priorities were misplaced and who was insufficiently focused on dealing with the post– September 11 threat. Or the stories could have concentrated on the signal the playing of the Series sent the world about American determination and resilience. In this frame what was important was the President's intent to send the message that neither he nor the country was cowering in fear of possible terrorist attacks.

With the patriotic lens created by September 11 still in place, reporters chose the latter focus. “Amid Tight Security,” said the headline in the Houston Chronicle, “Bush Pitch Is Perfect for Start of Game 3.” On Good Morning America, Charles Gibson reported that Bush “certainly signaled a sense of normalcy, I think, to the nation by going to the game last night with that patriotic pitch.” In ordinary times, the press adopts a distanced stance to those it covers. However, in times of crisis reporters abandon

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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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