Presidential Press Conferences: A Critical Approach

By Carolyn Smith | Go to book overview

From the view of the press, the questioning revealed a clear commitment to no retaliation against Iran and a clear statement about Reagan's hard-line attitude toward the Soviet Union. The press was successful in demonstrating that the administration was not ready to discuss an economic policy, although no one drew the explicit conclusion that the administration did not yet have a workable economic plan.

A good balance was struck between the president's need to exert leadership and the press motivation to require the president to account for his actions. He did not overwhelm the press, as some claim was the effect of John Kennedy's press conferences. Neither was there the kind of mutual hostility generated by abusive press questions and less-than- honest answers. There was even a balance in the types of questions asked.

The balance evident in the first press conference was not evident in the second. The key to understanding the differences between the two lies in understanding the differences in the relationship between the president and the press, differences caused by the rule changes. That is the subject of Chapter 9.


NOTES
1
"President Reagan's Press Conference Text", Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 39, no. 5 ( January 31, 1981): 237-240. All subsequent excerpts of this press conference are taken from this transcript.
2
Irwin B. Arieff, "Republicans Will Get an Early Test of Their New Hill Power as Congress Faces Key Issues", Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 39, no. 2 ( January 10, 1981): 55.
3
Dale Tate, "Hearings Held on Reagan Cabinet Nominees", Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 39, no. 2 ( January 10, 1981): 110.
4
"Reagan Hostage Remarks Text", Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 39, no. 5 ( January 31, 1981): 236.
5
Richard Whittle, "Reagan Promises Retribution Against Future Terrorists, But Not Revenge Against Iran", Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 39, no. 5 ( January 31, 1981): 220.
6
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary ( Springfield, Mass.: G. C. Merriam, 1981), p. 983.
7
">Ibid., p. 982.
8
See chronology in Julia McCue, "Final Three Months of Hostage Crisis", Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 39, no. 4 ( January 24, 1981): 169.
9
Cited in Christopher Buchanan, "Reagan Melds Acting Ability with Prowess in Politics", Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 38, no. 38 ( September 20, 1980): 2762-2763.
10
"Key Events in U.S.-Iran Relations During 444 Day Hostage Crisis", in Eugene Patterson et al., eds., 1980 CQ Almanac, vol. 36 ( Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1981), pp. 352-353.
11
Cited in McCue, p. 169.

-202-

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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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