Although the purpose of this book is to develop a methodology for doing presidential press conference criticism, the study may also lead to tools that would allow systematic quantification of the relationship. Perhaps the failure to find evidence in press conference questions means we need a new perspective on the questions.
I believe the adversarial relationship is so pervasive that we do not have to wait for the honeymoon period to be over to find the evidence. In Ronald Reagan's first press conference, it did not matter that he had not done anything yet. The adversarial press, including many correspondents who covered Ronald Reagan as governor of California or who had traveled with him throughout the 1980 campaign, had plenty of ammunition, and they fired it in the opening salvo.57
Furthermore, despite the lack of systematic evidence, other presidents in other times have experienced an adversary relationship with their shadowing press as they have attempted to control the release of the news to their best advantage and the press has attempted to report whatever they could find out whenever they could find it out. The adversarial relationship is so fundamental to the methodology of press conference criticism that it is important to demonstrate it historically. That is the subject of Chapter 2.