×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Managing the President's Message: The White House Communications Operation
     

Managing the President's Message: The White House Communications Operation

by Martha Joynt Kumar
 

See All Formats & Editions

Political scientists are rarely able to study presidents from inside the White House while presidents are governing, campaigning, and delivering thousands of speeches. It’s even rarer to find one who manages to get officials such as political adviser Karl Rove or presidential counselor Dan Bartlett to discuss their strategies while those strategies are under

Overview

Political scientists are rarely able to study presidents from inside the White House while presidents are governing, campaigning, and delivering thousands of speeches. It’s even rarer to find one who manages to get officials such as political adviser Karl Rove or presidential counselor Dan Bartlett to discuss their strategies while those strategies are under construction. But that is exactly what Martha Joynt Kumar pulls off in her fascinating new book, which draws on her first-hand reporting, interviewing, and original scholarship to produce analyses of the media and communications operations of the past four administrations, including chapters on George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Kumar describes how today’s White House communications and media operations can be at once in flux and remarkably stable over time. She describes how the presidential Press Office that was once manned by a single presidential advisor evolved into a multilayered communications machine that employs hundreds of people, what modern presidents seek to accomplish through their operations, and how presidents measure what they get for their considerable efforts.

Laced throughout with in-depth statistics, historical insights, and you-are-there interviews with key White House staffers and journalists, this indispensable and comprehensive dissection of presidential communications operations will be key reading for scholars of the White House researching the presidency, political communications, journalism, and any other discipline where how and when one speaks is at least as important as what one says.

Editorial Reviews

Political Studies Review
This is a well-written and detailed book and an ideal starting place from which to study the White House communications operations before moving on to fuller autobiographical accounts or the study of individual presidencies.

— Rob Griffiths

History Wire - Where the Past Comes Alive
A must-read for political junkies.

National Journal
Kumar combines her years of observation in the White House press room and hours of frank discussion with current and former officials to create a fascinating—and sometimes disheartening—history of how [the] dance has evolved over the last century.

— Jane Roh

Baltimore Sun
Some of the book is historical research, but much of it comes from the days and days that Kumar spends in the belly of the beast, hanging out in the press room in the West Wing of the White House.

— Michael Hill

Political Communication
Its place among scholarship on the presidency was quickly sealed when the presidency section of APSA awarded it the 2008 Richard E. Neustadt Award for best book on the presidency. The book is rich with detail regarding the Clinton and Bush communications and press operations... there is much to be mined in Kumar’s descriptions and explanations.

— Stephanie Burkhalter

Political Science Quarterly
Kumar's insightful Managing the President's Message provides much-needed insight, charting the recent changes in presidential media management strategies and in the routines practiced by the two most-recent White Houses, and provides an important addition to the academic discourse on political communication, framing, and leadership.

National Journal - Jane Roh
Kumar combines her years of observation in the White House press room and hours of frank discussion with current and former officials to create a fascinating—and sometimes disheartening—history of how [the] dance has evolved over the last century.

Baltimore Sun - Michael Hill
Some of the book is historical research, but much of it comes from the days and days that Kumar spends in the belly of the beast, hanging out in the press room in the West Wing of the White House.

Political Communication - Stephanie Burkhalter
Its place among scholarship on the presidency was quickly sealed when the presidency section of APSA awarded it the 2008 Richard E. Neustadt Award for best book on the presidency. The book is rich with detail regarding the Clinton and Bush communications and press operations... there is much to be mined in Kumar’s descriptions and explanations.

Political Studies Review - Rob Griffiths
This is a well-written and detailed book and an ideal starting place from which to study the White House communications operations before moving on to fuller autobiographical accounts or the study of individual presidencies.

Library Journal

Today's burgeoning variety of news sources poses a real challenge for any political administration wishing to communicate agendas, priorities, and policy initiatives to the public. Kumar (political science, Towson Univ.) examines the White House Office of Communications (which began in the Nixon administration), with particularly detailed analysis of the Clinton and George W. Bush terms. She looks at the delicate balance between Presidents, who must use the press to communicate, and the media, which can play an adversarial role in covering them. She defines the White House's communications role as advocating for policies, defending the President from critics, and coordinating government-wide publicity. Having been a regular in the White House Press Room since the early years of the Clinton administration, Kumar can offer an insider's view. Her interviews with Communications Office staff from earlier administrations, such as Ford's and Reagan's, offer a rare look at day-to-day operations and strategies. For example, Dan Bartlett, White House communications director from 2001 to 2005, explains how his office reached out to unconventional media and sponsored a White House roundtable for George W. Bush to meet with correspondents from hunting, fishing, and wilderness magazines. Kumar notes that even as communications strategies vary, there is stability in the system across administrations. Political science and journalism scholars will appreciate the rich detail and scholarship here. Appropriate for most academic libraries.
—Judy Solberg

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801895593
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
03/08/2010
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,176,456
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are Saying About This

Ken Auletta

Tapping access to various administrations and the reporters who covered them, Dr. Martha Kumar traces the history of the often fractious relationship between the White House and the press, the schemes each devises to cloak or reveal information; she tells why some succeed and others fail. A valuable addition to a presidential book library.

Ken Auletta, writer for The New Yorker and author of Media Man: Ted Turner's Improbable Empire

Marlin Fitzwater

Kumar has nailed it. This is a scholarly and fascinating account of White House communications in the modern era. Painful as it sometimes is for past press secretaries, this is a remarkably accurate picture of how presidents deal with the press.

Marlin Fitzwater, Press Secretary for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush

Meet the Author

Martha Joynt Kumar is a professor of political science at Towson University and the author and coauthor of several books on the media and the presidency, including the 1981 classic Portraying the President: The White House and the News Media, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews