This was true during the Reagan administration. Given a climate personally favorable to him and antagonistic to the media, Reagan was quick to seize the advantage and act to curtail the access and legitimacy of the White House media corps. This does not mean that the media are innocent bystanders or the protectors of democracy and should be rescued from the infamous Reagan administration. The question of the proper role of the media in our national politics is a complex subject and deserves more attention than I have given it here. What this study has shown is that through his public rhetoric as well as through organizational and legal means, Reagan has positioned himself in such a way as to discredit his opposition and the media.
Rhetoric does not control events; it serves to interpret them. Through a combination of organizational techniques and rhetorical positioning, Reagan helped to structure situations so that his interpretation, already in a favorable position, would be paramount. The nature of that interpretation, as well as further extrapolation of Reagan's rhetorical tactics and techniques, provide the substance of the following three chapters.
Part of this Chapter was originally presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Ill., April 1988.