The present investigation into persuasive attack and defense in the 1992 presidential debates is part of an established research program into discourse that concerns face, image, or reputation, all terms for the audience's impression of a persuader. Most of this work on image has focused on persuasive defense (apologiae, accounts) rather than persuasive attack. A theory of image restoration discourse was sketched in an article ( Benoit, Gullifor, and Panici, 1991) and then elaborated and illustrated in a book ( Benoit, 1995). Several of the studies in this research program have examined discourse from politicians: President Nixon's Watergate rhetoric ( Benoit, 1982), Senator Kennedy's Chappaquiddick address ( Benoit, 1982), President Reagan's Iran-Contra discourse ( Benoit, Gullifor, and Panici, 1991), and President Nixon's Cambodia address ( Benoit, 1995). Other research has investigated corporate image repair efforts: Tylenol ( Benoit and Lindsey, 1987b), AT&T ( Benoit and Brinson, 1994), Union Carbide ( Benoit, 1995), Exxon ( Benoit, 1995), Coke and Pepsi ( Benoit, 1995), Dow Corning ( Brinson and Benoit, in press), and Sears ( Benoit, in press). Image repair in entertainment and sports has also been studied: Tonya Harding's defense after the attack on Nancy Kerrigan ( Benoit and Hanczor, 1994), Oliver Stone's defense of JFK ( Benoit and Nill, under review), and Murphy Brown's response to Vice President Dan Quayle's attacks ( Benoit and Anderson, under review).
Taken as a whole, this body of work builds a case for the claim that persuasive defense is an important and pervasive communication