Foreign Policy and the Press: An Analysis of the New York Times' Coverage of U.S. Foreign Policy

By Nicholas O. Berry | Go to book overview

Introduction: The Press Is a Moon
and Not a Sun; It Only Reflects Light

THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

Early research on the press and foreign policy primarily concerns the press's role in foreign policymaking and administration. Bernard C. Cohen pathbreaking study, The Press and Foreign Policy, explores "the consequences, for the foreign policy making environment, of the way that the press defines and performs its job, and of the way that its output is assimilated by the participants in the process."1 According to Cohen, reporters see themselves as having two roles. As recorders of events, reporters inform, interpret, and explain foreign policy largely as a "neutral transmission belt." As participants in foreign policy, reporters question officials and criticize the government as representatives of the public. While recognizing the power of government, Cohen views the press as "a political actor of tremendous consequence." 2

James Reston The Artillery of the Press also emphasizes the participatory role of journalists in getting the news. He pleads for a more active press in getting the facts, in revealing causes, and in criticizing U.S. foreign policy. Other studies produce variations on the theme of the press as an active participant in foreign policy. Peter Braestrup, in The Big Story: How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington, argues that the press distorted reality by reporting Tet as a military disaster for U.S. policy. A more recent study by Martin Linsky, Impact: How the Press Affects Federal Policymaking, finds that policymakers believe the Washington press has a large impact on federal policy, from agenda setting to policy evaluation.

Other studies reverse direction. They focus more on how the Washington foreign policy establishment influences, even controls, what the press prints on

-xi-

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Foreign Policy and the Press: An Analysis of the New York Times' Coverage of U.S. Foreign Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1- Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs 1
  • 2- Johnson and Vietnam 27
  • 3- Nixon and Cambodia: the Press And the President Part Company 53
  • 4- Carter and the Iranian Hostages 81
  • 5- Reagan and the Intervention in Lebanon 109
  • 6- Findings, Implications, And Conclusions 139
  • Appendix A 153
  • Appendix B 155
  • Selected Bibliography 159
  • Index 161
  • About the Author *
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