The Battle for Public Opinion: The President, the Press, and the Polls during Watergate

By Gladys Engel Lang; Kurt Lang | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
1972: THE WATERGATE "CAPER"

Political attitudes, beliefs, and behavior do not easily change in response to the mass media, and even when they do the link is difficult to demonstrate. Yet the conviction survives that mass communications are a powerful political force. Since the early 1970s this conviction has gained new strength, in part from studies that document a correspondence between the amount of media attention a problem receives and the amount of public concern about the problem. Noting this connection between press concern and public concern, social scientists have arrived at a reformulation that holds that "people learn from the media what the important issues are." 1 Or, as Bernard Cohen in his study of the press and American foreign policy put it two decades ago, "the press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about." 2 Applied to the media as a whole, this process has been called agenda setting.

Watergate provides a prima facie case through which to illuminate the role of the mass media in setting the public agenda. If Watergate was not a significant factor in the outcome of the 1972 Presidential campaign--and it was not--was this because the media gave it too little coverage? When it did erupt into a major focus of controversy just five months later, was this simply a matter of stepped-up press attention?

In the case of Watergate, folk wisdom supports the agenda-setting hypothesis. On the one hand, the press (or most of it) has been critized for having buried the issue during the campaign, or at least for providing insufficient coverage; on the other, the news media have been lavishly praised for their key role in mobilizing the public. Without the dogged pursuit of the facts by enterprising newsmen, it is widely believed, the scandal would have expired and the Nixon administration would not have been held accountable. Neither evaluation of the media role quite accords with the evidence.

We start from the assumption that the agenda-setting hypothesis--that bland and unqualified statement that the mass media set the agenda during

-26-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Battle for Public Opinion: The President, the Press, and the Polls during Watergate
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 356

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.