When Politicians Attack: Party Cohesion in the Media

Overview

Fostering a positive brand name is the chief benefit parties provide for their members. They do this both by coordinating their activities in the legislative process and by communicating with voters. Whereas political scientists have generally focused on the former, dismissing partisan communication as cheap talk, this book argues that a party’s ability to coordinate its communication has important implications for the study of politics. The macro-level institutional setting of a party’s communication heavily ...

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Overview

Fostering a positive brand name is the chief benefit parties provide for their members. They do this both by coordinating their activities in the legislative process and by communicating with voters. Whereas political scientists have generally focused on the former, dismissing partisan communication as cheap talk, this book argues that a party’s ability to coordinate its communication has important implications for the study of politics. The macro-level institutional setting of a party’s communication heavily influences that party’s prospects for cohesive communication. Paradoxically, unified government presents the greatest challenge to unified communication within the president’s party. As this book argues, the challenge stems primarily from two sources: the constitutional separation of powers and the intervening role of the news media. In this setting, internal disputes with the president or within the congressional majority are more likely to arise; these disputes are disproportionately likely to be featured by the news media, and stories of intra-party strife become the most credible and damaging type of partisan story.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With his book When Politicians Attack! Party Cohesion in the Media, Tim Groeling goes a long way toward providing a roadmap to understand partisan talk and parties' efforts to create a brand name for themselves, and he identifies a somewhat surprising challenge for party unity-being the president's party, especially in unified government...Groeling has created a clear theoretical framework for analyzing partisan communication and its impact that can be applied well beyond the messages and media he has chosen to study."
- C. Danielle Vinson, Furman University, Political Communication

"Tim Groeling is one of our most imaginative younger scholars of communications and politics. Groeling builds a theory of news production, and its implications on public opinion, rooted in the interactions of journalists and politicians. He finds that cheap talk, when members of the president's party support him and the opposition criticizes, is less likely to lead to news coverage than costly rhetoric, criticism from the president's party and support from the opposition. Costly rhetoric too has larger effects on public opinion than cheap talk. This is a highly nuanced and well crafted study that helps us understand news coverage political rhetoric and the implication of that coverage on politics and public opinion."
—Jeffrey Cohen, Fordham University

"This book provides an amazing wealth of data and interesting insights into today's highly polarized world of party communications. The way in which parties talk to voters and the news media as well as the tone of their comments go a long way toward creating party name brands and distinguishing legislators from one another. Groeling has written a book that will be of tremendous interest to people who study Congress, political parties, and political communications."
—Darrell M. West, Brookings Institution

"This is a major contribution to our understanding of American politics. Groeling displays unparalleled breadth and insight by showing how the interaction of political institutions, audience demands, and media practices determines the workings of representative government. It is top-rate scholarship that should be read by anyone interested in how democracy works in America."
—James N. Druckman, Northwestern University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521603072
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/19/2010
  • Series: Communication, Society and Politics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Groeling is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at UCLA. With Matthew A. Baum, he is the co-author of War Stories: The Causes and Consequences of Public Views of War. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Politics, International Organization, Political Communication, Political Behavior, and Presidential Studies Quarterly, among other publications.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: singing from the same hymnbook: party cohesion in the media; 2. McParty: cohesion and the party 'brand name'; 3. Man bites president: the mediation of partisan communication; 4. Breaking the eleventh commandment: party cohesion in presidential news; 5. Life in the shadows: the president's legislative party as newsmaker; 6. When politicians attack: the political implications of partisan conflict in the media; 7. With enemies like these: the silver lining of divided government; 8. Conclusion: uncircling the firing squad: party cohesion in a new media era.

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