To what extent has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the interactions between politics, media and the public? That is the central question of this book and this introductory chapter. There is little doubt that a pandemic is not simply a dramatic event, but perhaps more comparable with war time. In this context of military conflict and anxiety, the support for leaders is often stronger than ever. Political scientists have documented this positive side effect as the ‘rally-around-the-flag’ theory. This theory will be used as a way to organize the different contributions to this book. The rally-around-the-flag theory basically involves the three central players in political communication. Although most scholars have focused on the reaction of the national leader, the interaction with and between media actors and ordinary citizens plays a crucial role. This chapter shows that while a rally effect might be expected during such a profound crisis, it is really more complicated than that. Because of national differences in leadership and communication, fragmentation in media ecologies, and growing polarization of electorates and media landscapes, there can be a huge variation in the presence and duration of a rally effect. The different chapters in this book provide the necessary national context or comparative insights to understand this variation in leadership approval.