Presidential Press Conferences: A Critical Approach

By Carolyn Smith | Go to book overview

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.


NOTES
1
"An Expletive from Reagan", New York Times, March 1, 1986, p. A7.
2
Ibid.
3
Ibid.
4
See, for example, transcript of "ABC World News Tonight", ABC-TV ( March 1, 1986).
5
"An Expletive from Reagan", p. A7.
6
Gerald M. Boyd, "U.S. May Seize Some Marcos Money", New York Times, March 1, 1986, p. A7.
7
Ibid.
8
Ibid.
9
William L. Rivers, The Other Government ( New York: Universe, 1982), p. 11.
10
William J. Small, Political Power and the Press ( New York: W. W. Norton, 1972), p. 10.
11
Cited in Rivers, The Other Government, p. 22.
12
Ibid.
13
Small, p. 9.
14
Cited in John Weisman, "TV and the Presidency, President Reagan Talks About Leaks, Boycotts, and News Bias", TV Guide ( March 15, 1982): 5.
15
Ibid., pp. 5-6.
16
Ibid., p. 6.
17
Ibid.
18
Ibid., p. 8.
19
Ibid.

-12-

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Presidential Press Conferences: A Critical Approach
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword xi
  • Notes xiii
  • Introduction: the Limits of Press Conference Reform xv
  • Notes xix
  • Chapter One - The Adversarial Relationship 1
  • Notes 12
  • Chapter Two - Evolution of the Adversarial Press Conference 15
  • Notes 52
  • Chapter Three - Persuasion and Accountability: Press Conference Goals 65
  • Notes 77
  • Chapter Four - The Press Conference Agenda 79
  • Notes 91
  • Chapter Five - The Press Conference Structure 93
  • Notes 108
  • Chapter Six - Good Questions and Good Answers 109
  • Notes 123
  • Chapter Seven - Reagan and the Press: Establishing The Benchmark 125
  • Notes 139
  • Chapter Eight - A Criticism of the Opening Salvo 143
  • Notes 202
  • Chapter Nine - The "Jelly Bean Lottery": An Experiment in Tepidness 209
  • Notes 241
  • Selected Bibliography 245
  • Index 255
  • About the Author 261
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