chapter  2
28 Pages

The President as a News Hook

The First “W”
ByStephen E. Frantzich

The primacy of the president as a news hook can be seen by the varied media reaction to visits by key policy-makers to Iraq in 2003. The statistic that remains most consistent in the contemporary era is the imbalance of presidential coverage versus that of other institutions of government. The growth of newspaper syndicates and the relative size of national network news staffs meant that covering national stories in general and the presidency in particular were efficient ways to fill the news hole. Given the media's negativity toward the president, sometimes the best a president can hope for is avoiding bad news. Public fascination with the "soft news" side of the presidency, and the media's compliance in feeding the public stories about presidential lifestyles and peculiarities, may well shortchange the role of citizens in a representative democracy.