Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves

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As Barack Obama settles in at the White House, the media and the administration are in full gear trying to influence and exploit each other in the never-ended battle over news content. This book looks at how presidents and presidential candidates use television, the Internet, and newspapers to promote their policies and themselves, even as they are sometimes manipulated by the media they so avidly seek.

Looking at White House media strategies relating to the Iraq War and occupation, health care reform, tax and budget debates, the debate over Bush’s competence, the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal, and the early battles of the 2008 presidential election, media scholar and former journalist Stephen Farnsworth examines how presidents shift the direction and limit the amount of public debate over policies to favor themselves—and how reporters and Internet commentators often help them do so.

The result short-circuits the public’s role in evaluating competing visions for the country’s future and the legislative branch’s role in policy making. The modern presidential obsession with public relations—and media willingness to be used to advance executive power—undermine the country’s long term ability to deal with crucial problems, including foreign and military relations, a growing government debt, and public health care shortcomings.

See Stephen Farnsworth discussing Spinner-in-Chief on C-SPAN: C-SPAN Interview

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Whew! The presidential spin cycle can leave anybody reeling, and trying to separate White House fact from fiction. But a fine scholar, Steve Farnsworth, has come to our rescue. He shows us what Presidents say, and why they say it. Farnsworth’s book is consumer protection for citizens—and a lively, well written delight for students”

“Packed with examples and data, Spinner-in-Chief takes the reader into the heart of the White House’s efforts to market itself and raises important questions about the consequences of those endeavors.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594512681
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2008
  • Series: Media and Power
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen J. Farnsworth, Assistant Professor of Communication at George Mason University, is a former newspaper journalist and author or coauthor of three previous books on U.S. politics and the mass media, most recently The Mediated Presidency: Television News and Presidential Governance (with S. Robert Lichter, 2006).
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Table of Contents


1 The Many Channels of Presidential Spin

2 Spinning Congress and the Rest of the Government: Persuasion (or Not) along Pennsylvania Avenue

3 Presidents and Citizens: Spinning for Public Approval

4 Modern Media Channels: Presidents and Presidential Candidates Spin the New Media

5 The Consequences of Presidential Spin

Counterspin Cookbook



About the Author

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