Communication in the Presidential Primaries: Candidates and the Media, 1912-2000

By Kathleen E. Kendall | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Through Media Eyes in the
Pre-Television Era: News Media
Shaping of the Primaries, 1912-1952

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle
accident and the collapse of civilization.
--George Bernard Shaw


INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTERS 5 AND 6

Republican presidential candidate and commentator Pat Buchanan reflected on the New Hampshire Democratic primary and the media in 1992. "I felt if Cuomo [ Governor Mario Cuomo of New York] got in, it'd be very exciting," he said. "Cuomo vs. the six-pack." But when Cuomo did not enter, he continued, "I thought we'd get the free media. Then the Clinton news broke, and the free media went wild" (comments on the Buchanan press bus, February 17, 1992, author's notes). Buchanan's remarks depict a powerful media, drawn to conflict and scandal and wellknown candidates, unpredictable in their choices, ready to seize upon excitement wherever it might appear. Candidates hope for their attention ("I thought we'd get the free media"), but they never know when the media will dash off after stories of sex or corruption. Democratic candidate Bob Kerrey's campaign manager, discussing this same period, lamented that the media gave so much attention to the Clinton stories of infidelity and the draft that they pushed Kerrey's candidacy out of the picture ( Tad Devine, in Royer, 1994).

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