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Dual Executive An Examination Of How The Media Indirectly Controls The Government

3373 words - 14 pages

In modern society, public perception of the United States president depends largely on television news coverage. Aware of this, presidents and presidential candidates manipulate the media to create favorable impressions of themselves and their policies. Acting in self-interest to entertain a large audience, the press often sensationalizes events and fails to fully inform the public on realities of news and current situations. The American public has grown disillusioned and apathetic and fails to turn to other sources to educate themselves. As a result, the public never sees an accurate reflection of a president's performance. In today's world, objective news reporting no longer exists. This ...view middle of the document...

Ultimately, his style of journalism became a model for the modern media (Vanderwicken 1995).The crisis of Great Depression and advent of electronic media increased public expectations of the president. As radio emerged early in the twentieth century, politicians tailored their speeches for the large audience. As president, FDR personalized his administrations through regular fireside chats. Addressing Americans as "my friends," he promoted his policies over the airwaves (Shogan 2000).A good example of how the media impacts the American public is shown an incident in the late thirties that caused a widespread public panic in America after a radio station broadcast of H.G.Wells' fictional narrative War of the Worlds. The production involved a series of news bulletins in which the reporter gave a "live" account of a Martian invasion. A lot of listeners had tuned in a few moments after the show had begun and so, apparently unaware that the program was of a fictitious nature, believed what they were hearing was the truth and so began becoming hysterical, with some taking to the streets and others even packing up their belongings as quickly as they could and driving off in order to avoid the attacks. The primary factor in the "invasion" was the trust that the public had in radio journalism being unwittingly extended to a practical simulation. What was evident from this episode was the steady, gradual and routine influence that the mass media as a whole had exerted, led to the radio broadcasts listeners faith that they were being attacked (Corner 2000: 385).The problem with television is that it magnifies events, making them larger than life and more immediate, and making the president seem more powerful than he actually is. According to Bell (1999) exaggeration of events is not necessarily good or bad, but distorts their significance. He says, "Today the issues of ethics and responsibility raised for journalists do not fall neatly within the old definitions and guidelines. Stories can be accurate, in so far as they go, and still lack perspective, distort reality, and magnify events." A clever choice of words can make things seem different than they are. For instance, during the Vietnam War, the Defense Department of the United States used many misleading phrases in news reports. Instead of "forced transfer of civilians" they said "relocation", and instead of "lies" they said "elements in the credibility gap." (Cirino 18) By using carefully chosen phrases, the Defense Department made their war efforts seem less harmful to the people in the United States.Almost 80% of all United States television coverage of governmentofficials focuses on the President. (Remy 1999) For presidents, skill in presentation and style are essential to winning public trust. Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan were considered very good at this. In reality, however, the president actually doesn't have all that much individual power, since our system is...

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