Heldman, Caroline; 7-27-09 Revised Presentation

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“A Momentary Lapse of Reason”: Media Frames of Bush Administration Policy Issues

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Heldman, Caroline; 7-27-09 Revised Presentation

  1. 1. “ A Momentary Lapse of Reason”: Media Frames of Bush Administration Policy Issues Caroline Heldman Occidental College
  2. 2. Primary Topics <ul><li>Phase I: White House Marketing/ media coverage of the Iraq War. </li></ul><ul><li>Phase II: White House Marketing/ media coverage of Bush policies pre-9/11. </li></ul><ul><li>Phase III: White House Marketing/ media coverage of Bush policies post-9/11. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Phase I: Iraq War Analysis <ul><li>How did the White House “sell” the recent Iraq War to the American public? </li></ul><ul><li>How did mainstream print media cover the Iraq War? </li></ul><ul><li>What does this analysis tell us about presidential power? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Trends in the Presidential-Press Relationship <ul><li>Presidents “going public” </li></ul><ul><li>Increasingly inter-dependent relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Rally Around the Flag post-9/11 </li></ul>
  5. 5. Media Effects <ul><li>Agenda-setting </li></ul><ul><li>Framing </li></ul><ul><li>Priming </li></ul>
  6. 6. Methods <ul><li>Content analysis used </li></ul><ul><li>Entailed major coding </li></ul><ul><li>Two datasets generated: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>White House communications regarding Iraq </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Print media coverage of Iraq </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. White House Dataset <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>361 communications included in the White House Dataset. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Media Dataset <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Good sources because of broad circulation, readership accessibility, and the ideological range of their editorial positions. </li></ul><ul><li>412 articles in the Media Dataset. </li></ul>
  9. 9. The “Selling” of the War <ul><li>Terrorist Frame: Saddam Hussein sponsors terrorism </li></ul><ul><li>WMD Frame: Hussein’s WMD pose an imminent threat to the U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>Liberation Frame: Liberation of the Iraqi people from an evil dictator </li></ul>
  10. 10. White House Use of Three Frames
  11. 11. White House Frames During War
  12. 12. White House Mention of WMD
  13. 13. Effectiveness of White House Campaign <ul><li>69% of Americans thought Iraq was involved in 9/11 attacks in August, 2003. </li></ul><ul><li>22% believed WMD had been found in August, 2003. </li></ul><ul><li>Support for the Iraq War much higher among Americans who harbored misperceptions (86% compared to 23%). </li></ul>
  14. 14. Support for the War in Iraq <ul><li>A majority of Americans supported the war in Iraq when the White House proposed the idea in 2002, until February, 2005. </li></ul><ul><li>Extended “Rally Around the Flag” Effect (until April, 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Role of press coverage? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Framing
  16. 16. Agenda-Setting
  17. 17. Priming: Terrorist Frame
  18. 18. Priming: Liberation Frame
  19. 19. Priming: WMD Frame
  20. 20. Framing Pre-War to During War
  21. 21. WMD Mentions
  22. 22. Phase I Findings <ul><li>Media coverage uncannily reflected White House attempts to set the agenda, prime, and frame coverage of the Second Gulf War. </li></ul><ul><li>Print media articles overwhelmingly reported that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD without questioning this “fact.” </li></ul>
  23. 23. Phase I Discussion <ul><li>New York Times and Washington Post mea culpas substantiate findings. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Phase II: Pre-9/11 Coverage <ul><li>Research Questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s public policy agenda reflect complicit coverage prior to September 11, 2001? </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Pre-9/11 Policy Agenda <ul><li>Tax Reform </li></ul><ul><li>Education Reform </li></ul><ul><li>Faith-Based Initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Rebuilding the Military </li></ul><ul><li>Social Security </li></ul><ul><li>Medicare </li></ul>
  26. 26. WH Tax Reform Frames <ul><li>Government Spending Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Working Class Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Class Warfare Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Small Business Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage Penalty Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Economic Stimulus Frame </li></ul>
  27. 27. WH Education Frames <ul><li>Local Control Frame </li></ul><ul><li>High Standards Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability Frame </li></ul>
  28. 28. WH Faith-Based Frames <ul><li>Compassionate Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Community Building Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Family Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Needy People Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Love Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Secular Frame </li></ul>
  29. 29. WH Rebuilding Military Frames <ul><li>Post- Cold War Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Strong Military Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Clear Mission Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Legitimacy Frame </li></ul>
  30. 30. WH Social Security Frames <ul><li>Honoring Commitment Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Preservation Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Young People Frame </li></ul>
  31. 31. WH Medicare Frames <ul><li>Dignity Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Choice Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Cost Frame </li></ul>
  32. 32. Percentage of White House Communications Mentioning Policy (n=124)
  33. 33. Complicit Coverage Pre-9/11
  34. 34. Phase III: Post-9/11 Coverage <ul><li>Research Questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s policy agenda reflect the framing presented by the White House post-9/11? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s policy agenda reflect the priming presented by the White House post-9/11? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Did a majority of print media coverage of President Bush’s public policy agenda reflect complicit coverage after 9/11? </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Percentage of White House Communications Mentioning Policy Topic (n=480)
  36. 36. Energy Policy Framing/Coverage
  37. 37. Percentage of Complicit Print Media Articles Pre- and Post-9/11
  38. 38. Democratic Implications <ul><li>“ Rally effect” erodes media watchdog function. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Rally effect” will influence policies linked (even rhetorically) to crisis. </li></ul><ul><li>Complicit coverage emerges during times when critical coverage is most needed. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Presidential Power Implications <ul><li>Persuasive Presidency Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Imperial Presidency Theory </li></ul><ul><li>New Model of Imperial Persuasion </li></ul>
  40. 40. Imperial Persuasion <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>The End </li></ul>

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