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The Presidency in the Era of 24-Hour News examines how changes in the news media since the golden age of television — when three major networks held a near monopoly on the news people saw in the United States — have altered the way presidents communicate with the public and garner popular support. How did Bill Clinton manage to maintain high approval ratings during the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Why has the Iraq war mired George Bush in the lowest approval ratings of his presidency? Jeffrey Cohen reveals how the decline of government regulation and the growth of Internet and cable news outlets have made news organizations more competitive, resulting in decreased coverage of the president in the traditional news media and an increasingly negative tone in the coverage that does occur. He traces the dwindling of public trust in the news and shows how people pay less attention to it than they once did. Cohen argues that the news media’s influence over public opinion has decreased considerably as a result, and so has the president’s ability to influence the public through the news media. This has prompted a sea change in presidential leadership style. Engaging the public less to mobilize broad support, presidents increasingly cultivate special-interest groups that often already back the White House’s agenda.
This book carries far-reaching implications for the future of presidential governance and American democracy in the era of new media.