Presidential Framing in the 21st Century News Media: The Politics of the Affordable Care Act

Presidential Framing in the 21st Century News Media: The Politics of the Affordable Care Act

by Jennifer Rose Hopper


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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act came into existence at a time when the president’s ability to lead the public was in question, political polarization had intensified, and the media environment appeared ever more fragmented, fast-moving, and resistant to control. Under such circumstances, how can contemporary American presidents such as Barack Obama build and maintain support for themselves and their policies, particularly as controversies arise?

Using case studies of major contests over how key elements of the Affordable Care Act would be framed, and analysis of how those frames fared in influential and popular U.S. news sources, Hopper examines the conditions under which the president can effectively shape public debates today. She argues that despite the difficult political and communications context, the president retains substantial advantages in framing major controversial issues for the media and the public. These presidential framing advantages are conditional, however, and Hopper explores the factors that help make presidential frames more or less likely to gain hold in the news today. More so than in the past, an element of unpredictability in this news environment means that in pursuing favorable messaging, the president and his surrogates may also generate some unintentional consequences in how issues are portrayed to the public. Presidential frames can evolve with unfolding events to take on new meanings and applications, a process facilitated alternately by supporters, opponents, and media actors. Still, media figures and political opponents remain largely reactive to presidential communications, even as some seek to publicize and exploit weaknesses in the administration’s narratives. A close look at these recent cases casts new light on the scholarly debate surrounding the president’s ability to persuasively communicate and challenges conventional wisdom that the 21st century media largely present an unmanageable news environment for the White House.

Presidential Framing in the 21st Century News Media engages with current events in American politics, focusing on the Obama Administration and the Affordable Care Act, while also reflecting upon the state of the American presidency, the news media, and the public in ways that have substantial implications for all of these actors, not merely in the present, but into the future, making it a compelling read for scholars of Political Science, Media Studies, Communication Studies, and Public Policy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781138202368
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 01/30/2017
Pages: 174
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Jennifer Rose Hopper is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University, where she specializes in the American presidency, mass media, and political communication. Professor Hopper teaches courses on U.S. national political institutions, including Congress, the presidency, and the news media, as well as courses focused on the broader political environment and studying political parties, interest groups, social movements, and public policy.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Presidential Framing in the 21st Century News Media

Chapter 2: What’s in a Name? Taking Back "Obamacare"

Chapter 3: The Politics of Framing Policy Substance: Tax or Penalty?

Chapter 4: Bumpy Rollout, Faulty Framing:’s Debut

Chapter 5: Portraying Presidential Pledges and Dropped Plans

Chapter 6: Of Socialized Medicine and Death Panels — Framing Contests Over Health Care Reform in Comparative Perspective



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