Chapter 11 introduced the concept of agenda-setting and discussed the media's impact on the public agenda. This chapter broadens the focus to the political system and examines the complex interplay among the press, government, and public. Maxwell McCombs cut to the heart of the issue in one of his many articles on agenda-setting. McCombs noted that:
Early research on agenda-setting implied that the media were the major if not sole cause of changes in the public agenda. These studies took the media as the starting point and focused only on the impact of media coverage on public opinion. This approach may have been functional in the 1970s, given the paucity of research on political media effects. However, it implied that the media acted independently of other forces in the social system, when in fact the media frequently take their cues from the president, political elites, and public opinion. Subsequent studies have redressed this imbalance, and they are discussed in this chapter.