chapter  4
Asserting Interpretive Frames of Political Events: Panel Discussions on Television News
Pages 24

The evocation of social and political interpretations that legitimise a certain policy position is a basic strategy for generating support in a democratic system, which can become crucial for people’s experience of political events (Fischer 2003: 55). This chapter explores how political actors try to establish their interpretive frames of current problems and developments in debates with political opponents on TV. Live discussions on political issues in news programs like the ones on Austrian public television (ORF) are broadly valued for their ‘authenticity’ because they are expected to reveal participants’ supposedly ‘original’ political motivations more openly than interactively less demanding press conferences or interviews. Unlike the prearranged choreography of similar events e.g. on American TV, these debates are open in their setting and proceeding. Nonetheless, impressions of authenticity can be fundamentally misleading, because rhetorically trained politicians – when successful – may produce calculated effects by deliberate formulations and patterns of behaviour, which become evident through close linguistic and interactional analysis.