Heldmancaroline7 27-09 momentary-lapse-of-reason

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Evaluating the George W Bush Presidency 2009 Conference

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Heldmancaroline7 27-09 momentary-lapse-of-reason

  1. 1. “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”: Media Frames of Bush Administration Policy Issues Caroline Heldman Occidental College
  2. 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. 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. 4. Trends in the Presidential-Press Relationship  Presidents “going public”  Increasingly inter-dependent relationship  Rally Around the Flag post-9/11
  5. 5. Media Effects  Agenda-setting  Framing  Priming
  6. 6. Methods  Content analysis used  Entailed major coding  Two datasets generated: 1. White House communications regarding Iraq 2. Print media coverage of Iraq
  7. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 21. WMD Mentions Mixed 3.0% Assumed 89.6% Existence Questioned 3.7% Do Not Exist 3.7%
  22. 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. 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. 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. 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. 26. WH Tax Reform Frames  Government Spending Frame  Working Class Frame  Class Warfare Frame  Small Business Frame  Marriage Penalty Frame  Economic Stimulus Frame
  27. 27. WH Education Frames  Local Control Frame  High Standards Frame  Accountability Frame
  28. 28. WH Faith-Based Frames  Compassionate Frame  Community Building Frame  Family Frame  Needy People Frame  Love Frame  Secular Frame
  29. 29. WH Rebuilding Military Frames  Post- Cold War Frame  Strong Military Frame  Clear Mission Frame  Legitimacy Frame
  30. 30. WH Social Security Frames  Honoring Commitment Frame  Preservation Frame  Young People Frame
  31. 31. WH Medicare Frames  Dignity Frame  Choice Frame  Cost Frame
  32. 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. 33. Complicit Coverage Pre-9/11 Non-Complicit Coverage, 84.6% Complicit Coverage, 16.4%
  34. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 39. Presidential Power Implications  Persuasive Presidency Theory  Imperial Presidency Theory  New Model of Imperial Persuasion
  40. 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. 41. The End

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