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Heldmancaroline7 27-09 momentary-lapse-of-reason

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Evaluating the George W Bush Presidency 2009 Conference

Evaluating the George W Bush Presidency 2009 Conference

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  • 1. “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”: Media Frames of Bush Administration Policy Issues Caroline Heldman Occidental College
  • 2. Primary Topics  Phase I: White House Marketing/ media coverage of the Iraq War.  Phase II: White House Marketing/ media coverage of Bush policies pre-9/11.  Phase III: White House Marketing/ media coverage of Bush policies post-9/11.
  • 3. Phase I: Iraq War Analysis  How did the White House “sell” the recent Iraq War to the American public?  How did mainstream print media cover the Iraq War?  What does this analysis tell us about presidential power?
  • 4. Trends in the Presidential-Press Relationship  Presidents “going public”  Increasingly inter-dependent relationship  Rally Around the Flag post-9/11
  • 5. Media Effects  Agenda-setting  Framing  Priming
  • 6. Methods  Content analysis used  Entailed major coding  Two datasets generated: 1. White House communications regarding Iraq 2. Print media coverage of Iraq
  • 7. White House Dataset  All press releases, press conferences, press gaggles, presidential speeches, and presidential radio addresses that included the word “Iraq” from September 12, 2001, to May 8, 2003.  361 communications included in the White House Dataset.
  • 8. Media Dataset  Every other article mentioning the word “Iraq” in Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report from September 12, 2001, to May 8, 2003.  Good sources because of broad circulation, readership accessibility, and the ideological range of their editorial positions.  412 articles in the Media Dataset.
  • 9. The “Selling” of the War  Terrorist Frame: Saddam Hussein sponsors terrorism  WMD Frame: Hussein’s WMD pose an imminent threat to the U.S.  Liberation Frame: Liberation of the Iraqi people from an evil dictator
  • 10. White House Use of Three Frames 17.2% 33.8% 49.1% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Terrorism Frame Liberation Frame WMD Frame
  • 11. White House Frames During War 4.5% 75.0% 20.5% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Terrorism Frame Liberation Frame WMD Frame
  • 12. White House Mention of WMD No Mention of WMD 24.9% Mixed Message about WMD 1.1% Iraq/Hussein has WMD 74.0%
  • 13. Effectiveness of White House Campaign  69% of Americans thought Iraq was involved in 9/11 attacks in August, 2003.  22% believed WMD had been found in August, 2003.  Support for the Iraq War much higher among Americans who harbored misperceptions (86% compared to 23%).
  • 14. Support for the War in Iraq  A majority of Americans supported the war in Iraq when the White House proposed the idea in 2002, until February, 2005.  Extended “Rally Around the Flag” Effect (until April, 2004)  Role of press coverage?
  • 15. Framing 17.2% 14.2% 33.8% 30.7% 49.1% 29.8% 8.0% 5.8% 4.4% 3.1% 2.20% 1.80% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Terrorism Frame Liberation Frame WMD Frame Imperialism Frame Democracy Frame Political Gain Frame Defense Industry Frame Oil Frame Revenge Frame
  • 16. Agenda-Setting 50 35 0 117 2 33 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 S ep- 01 Oct- 01 N ov- 01 D ec- 01 Jan- 02 Feb- 02 Mar- 02 Apr- 02 M ay- 02 Jun- 02 Jul- 02 A ug- 02 S ep- 02 Oct- 02 N ov- 02 D ec- 02 Jan- 03 Feb- 03 Mar- 03 Apr- 03 Months NumberofCommunications/Articles White House Media
  • 17. Priming: Terrorist Frame 8.0% 22.2% 11.1% 5.9% 12.5% 35.7% 15.7% 12.5% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Quadrant 1 Quadrant 2 Quadrant 3 Quadrant 4 PercentofCommunications/Articleswith TerroristasPrimaryFrame White House Media
  • 18. Priming: Liberation Frame 52.9% 25.9% 44.4% 20.6% 67.5% 37.1% 28.9% 15.0% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Quadrant 1 Quadrant 2 Quadrant 3 Quadrant 4 PercentofCommunications/Articleswith LiberationasPrimaryFrame White House Media
  • 19. Priming: WMD Frame 39.1% 51.9% 44.4% 73.5% 20.0% 27.1% 55.4% 72.5% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Quadrant 1 Quadrant 2 Quadrant 3 Quadrant 4 PercentofCommunications/Articleswith WMDasPrimaryFrame White House Media
  • 20. Framing Pre-War to During War 19.2% 15.7% 4.5% 4.3% 27.2% 35.5% 75.0% 78.7% 53.6% 48.8% 20.5% 17.0% 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% Terrorist Pre-War Terrorist in War Liberation Pre-War Liberation in War WMD Pre- War WMD in War Primary Frames Pre-War and After White House Media
  • 21. WMD Mentions Mixed 3.0% Assumed 89.6% Existence Questioned 3.7% Do Not Exist 3.7%
  • 22. Phase I Findings  Media coverage uncannily reflected White House attempts to set the agenda, prime, and frame coverage of the Second Gulf War.  Print media articles overwhelmingly reported that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD without questioning this “fact.”
  • 23. Phase I Discussion  New York Times and Washington Post mea culpas substantiate findings.  Complicit coverage: Media reporting that conveys the White House position, typically using White House language and frames, without counter arguments, discussion of alternative frames, or noting opposition to the policy at hand.
  • 24. Phase II: Pre-9/11 Coverage  Research Questions: 1. Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s policy agenda reflect the framing presented by the White House pre-September 11, 2001? 2. Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s policy agenda reflect the priming presented by the White House pre-September 11, 2001? 3. Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s public policy agenda reflect complicit coverage prior to September 11, 2001?
  • 25. Pre-9/11 Policy Agenda 1. Tax Reform 2. Education Reform 3. Faith-Based Initiatives 4. Rebuilding the Military 5. Social Security 6. Medicare
  • 26. WH Tax Reform Frames  Government Spending Frame  Working Class Frame  Class Warfare Frame  Small Business Frame  Marriage Penalty Frame  Economic Stimulus Frame
  • 27. WH Education Frames  Local Control Frame  High Standards Frame  Accountability Frame
  • 28. WH Faith-Based Frames  Compassionate Frame  Community Building Frame  Family Frame  Needy People Frame  Love Frame  Secular Frame
  • 29. WH Rebuilding Military Frames  Post- Cold War Frame  Strong Military Frame  Clear Mission Frame  Legitimacy Frame
  • 30. WH Social Security Frames  Honoring Commitment Frame  Preservation Frame  Young People Frame
  • 31. WH Medicare Frames  Dignity Frame  Choice Frame  Cost Frame
  • 32. Percentage of White House Communications Mentioning Policy (n=124) 69% 25% 12% 27% 20% 22% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Tax Cuts Education Faith-Based Rebuilding Military Social Security Medicare
  • 33. Complicit Coverage Pre-9/11 Non-Complicit Coverage, 84.6% Complicit Coverage, 16.4%
  • 34. Phase III: Post-9/11 Coverage Research Questions: 1. Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s policy agenda reflect the framing presented by the White House post-9/11? 2. Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s policy agenda reflect the priming presented by the White House post-9/11? 3. Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s public policy agenda reflect complicit coverage after 9/11?
  • 35. Percentage of White House Communications Mentioning Policy Topic (n=480) 12.5% 3.1% 1.9% 10.8% 17.3% 0.8% 8.3% 2.1% 14.0% 36.7% 0.6% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Clear Skies Initiative Economic Stimulus Energy Policy Estate Tax Faith-Based Initiative Healthy Forest Initiative Medicare Reform Missile Defense Tort Reform Trade Promotion Authority Social Security Reform
  • 36. Energy Policy Framing/Coverage 36.6% 0.0% 15.5% 4.4% 2.9% 14.9% 16.4% 52.2% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Reduce Foreign Reliance Frame Economic Stimulus Find New Source Frame Business Incentive White House Media
  • 37. Percentage of Complicit Print Media Articles Pre- and Post-9/11 16.4% 13.0% 0.0% 2.0% 4.0% 6.0% 8.0% 10.0% 12.0% 14.0% 16.0% 18.0% Pre-9/11 Post-9/11
  • 38. Democratic Implications  “Rally effect” erodes media watchdog function.  “Rally effect” will influence policies linked (even rhetorically) to crisis.  Complicit coverage emerges during times when critical coverage is most needed.
  • 39. Presidential Power Implications  Persuasive Presidency Theory  Imperial Presidency Theory  New Model of Imperial Persuasion
  • 40. Imperial Persuasion The president is able to sway the hearts and minds of Americans through skillful selling of ideas through mainstream media during times of national crisis.
  • 41. The End

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