Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Avoiding Media at All Costs

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Avoiding Media at All Costs

    In Fortress Bush, writer Ken Auletta illustrates the resistance George W. Bush and his Administration had towards being transparent and cooperative with the press.  Past White House regimes, such as Reagan and Clinton, embraced the press and aimed to established likable relations with the press in order to obtain positive media coverage.  However, Bush’s relations with media have been intentionally strained and distant.  Disdainful and distrustful of press, Bush dismissed the notion that reporters are a representative source or vessel for public opinion.  Therefore, the Bush staff strategically avoids their questions and gives answers that convey predisposed messages.

            One such tactic includes the Bush Administration’s attempt to focus on speaking “with one voice” to convey the same “talking points” so that the staff transmits the same response to media questions.  The Administration also held daily “pulse check” meetings to reassure that everyone was staying “on message.” Believing that less is more, President Bush became known to respond to public questions with vague, fabricated answers which stick to “the message.”

            In another attempt to avoid the media, the president only held eleven solo press conferences during his first presidency by January 1, 2004, a significantly small number in comparison with prior presidents.  This was done in order to help Bush dodge being in the media spotlight in uncontrolled, formal settings.  Bush representatives, such as Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary, have also been found to avoid questions through humor and giving repetitive remarks.

Through data and observation, Ken Auletta reveals the Bush Administration’s tactics in keeping the press at a controlled distance.  From this evidence, I feel the Bush Administration misled the public by lubricating the whole truth and the facts they wish to deny.

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