TALKING POLITICS by Liz Cunningham


Choosing the President in the Television Age
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 Some interesting exchanges and provocative observations arise from these interviews with nine prominent broadcast journalists and one politician about presidential campaigns. Although numerous issues surface, freelance journalist Cunningham notes that the question of character--and the capacity of television to illuminate it--resonates most powerfully with her interviewees. Public television's Robert MacNeil, for example, observes that Dan Rather's famous on-air battle with George Bush in 1988 allowed the candidate to shed his image as a wimp. Conversely, Dave Sirulnick, director of MTV News, observes that in Bush's 1992 appearance with MTV's youthful Tabitha Soren, he ``looked like someone's father `scolding' his young teenage daughter.'' In a different take on the character issue, MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour essayist Roger Rosenblatt suggests that Bill Clinton's stance on capital punishment and flag burning better illuminate his character than the Gennifer Flowers scandal. More trenchant is Linda Ellerbee, late of ABC, who rues that the press protects those in power by not reporting on their failings and vehemently denies charges of the media's liberal bias: ``The national press is centrist if it's anything.'' By contrast, ABC's Jeff Greenfield reflects that TV news is hardly all-powerful, noting that reporting on Reagan's gaffes did not lessen his public support. Former vice- presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, the subject of much media scrutiny, observes that questions about character should concentrate less on personal behavior and more on how candidates feel about ``moral issues'' like feeding the hungry. Cunningham concludes with a brief epilogue, noting that criticism of the media can and should help improve coverage. A small potpourri, but with more substance than most in this format.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-275-94187-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Praeger
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995