Strange Bedfellows: How Television and the Presidential Candidates Changed American Politics, 1992

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9781562828592: Strange Bedfellows: How Television and the Presidential Candidates Changed American Politics, 1992

An award-winning political correspondent for the Los Angeles Times journeys behind the scenes of the 1992 presidential campaign and explores the role and the impact of the media on American politics.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

An episodic appraisal of how network TV in general and ABC-TV in particular covered last year's presidential campaign. If longer on detailed vignettes than substantive analysis, the savvy text still affords insight into the ways that a major news-gathering outfit strives to propitiate constituencies--ranging from its sources to the viewing public. Starting from the premise that it's impossible to understand US politics without a grasp of domestic TV, Rosenstiel (a media reporter for The Los Angeles Times) turns the tables on ABC's minions, offering an up-close-and-personal take on how they conducted themselves and met their putative responsibilities during a lengthy campaign that started well before the primaries and was far from over on election eve. Among other matters, he recounts how the network and its rivals initially resolved to provide serious, issue-oriented reportage, eschewing sound-bite sensationalism and resisting manipulation by candidates whose handlers were on to the tricks of the TV trade. These good intentions came a cropper, Rosenstiel notes, in part because the nominees learned to bypass the networks and deal with local affiliates or appeal directly to the electorate through nontraditional outlets (like talk shows). In addition, he points out, reformist instincts were overtaken by such events as allegations concerning Clinton's draft record and womanizing, as well as by Perot's bent for politically suicidal pronouncements. Dismissing any notion that print or TV journalists were fundamentally biased in their coverage of the campaign, Rosenstiel nonetheless taxes both branches of the fourth estate with underestimating their audiences--which, he says, do want hard information because they take politics seriously. He closes with the tantalizing, albeit unprobed, conclusion that the broadcast medium had best supply this demand or risk replacement as the nation's dominant source of news. An absorbing retrospective that raises as many questions as it answers. -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

To dismiss this absorbing book as a post-facto account of the '92 campaign would be wrongheaded. Nor does a short description of the premise do it justice. Rosenstiel, media and politics correspondent for the Los Angeles Times , charted the campaign coverage of a single network (ABC) for an entire year. Through World News , Rosenstiel paints a group portrait of networks, newspapers, politicians and voters struggling with the profound changes of the past few years. With the incursions into political coverage by such television shows as Larry King Live and Phil Donahue and by tabloids such as the Star (witness Gennifer Flowers), the national press had to re-evaluate its sense of what the voters need to know. Most importantly, with more people getting their headlines from local media, CNN and C-Span, the mainstream national broadcast and print media increasingly saw their function as analyzing, rather than simply reporting the news. If this too often put correspondents in the role of newsmakers, it also made them savvier, even cynical, interpreters of the political manipulation that other less-seasoned media did not always recognize. The good news is: no one is really to blame. The bad news is: no one is really to blame. Rosenstiel offers a few suggestions, but his greatest success is in stripping off layers of spin-doctoring, polling, sound-biting, photo-oping and advertising to let readers determine for themselves the state of the union between press and politics.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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