Terrorism and the Media: From the Iran Hostage Crisis to the Oklahoma City Bombing / Edition 1

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The televised images from the September 11 attacks exemplified how terrorists exploit the news media to get attention, spread fear and anxiety, and expose the weaknesses of the American superpower. September 11 was the culmination of decades of anti-American terrorism that, until the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, had not been felt on American soil. This book examines the response of the U.S. media, public, and decision makers to major acts of anti-American terrorism during the period from 1979-1994. Focusing on events abroad, such as the Iranian hostage crisis and the downing of Pan Am Flight 103, Nacos describes how terrorists successfully manipulate the linkages between the news media, public opinion, and presidential decision making through the staging of violent spectaculars.

A preface examines the dilemmas faced by the government and media in response to domestic terrorism perpetrated by Americans against Americans in 1995. Nacos argues that government acquiescence to mass-media pressure in the wake of the Oklahoma City Bombing, as well as the media's agonizing decision to publish the Unabomber's 35,000-word manifesto, represented a victory for terrorism that could only encourage more terrorism.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

The Friday Review of Defense Literature

Her book is a proverbial breath of fresh air blown into the stuffy catacombs where U.S. policy on this subject is made.

Martha Crenshaw
This book is a welcome and valuable addition to the literature on terrorism.It fills a gap by providing a uniquely detailed and comprehensive examination of the relationship between terrorism, the media, public opinion, and government decisionmaking in the American context.
Political Science Quarterly
Brigitte L. Nacos has written a definitive study and provides an exhaustive statistical base to support her analysis.
Friday Review of Defense Literature
Her book is a proverbial breath of fresh air blown into the stuffy catacombs where U.S. policy on this subject is made.
At a time when US national security experts anticipate more acts of international terrorism at home and abroad, Nacos contends that terrorists are very successful in exploiting the vital link between the news media, public opinion, and decision-making--that terrorism works because media coverage of such incidents influences the American public to support government responses that protect the victims of terrorism, most of all hostages, at the expense of the national interest; and moreover, that presidents and other high-level officials tend to follow public opinion. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231100151
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/3/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 8.88 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Brigitte L. Nacos, a longtime correspondent for newspapers in Germany, teaches American government and politics at Columbia University. Dr. Nacos is the author of The Press, Presidents, and Crises published by Columbia University Press.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Calculus of Violence2. Terrorism, the Media, and Foreign Policy3. Terrorists and Their Goals4. The Polls and the Theater of Terror5. Terrorist Spectaculars and Presidential Rallies6. Decision Makers and Their Hard Choices7. Conclusion: Must Terrorists Succeed?

Columbia University Press

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