in Understanding the Public Presidency
Eshbaugh-Soha, Mathew. “The
Public Presidency.” New Directions in the American Presidency,
Edited by Lori Han, Routledge, 2011, pp. 54-70.
In “The Public Presidency, Eshbaugh-Soha asks four questions: “What is the public presidency?”,
“What does new coverage of the presidency
look like?”, “Are presidents successful in
influencing news coverage?”, “And what are the prospects for leadership in light
of a changing media environment that might accentuate, rather than ameliorate,
existing constraints and limitations on effective presidential communication?”.
He breaks the problem down into four main sections: the public presidency, white house communications, the mediated presidency,
cable and other news. Through these four parts,
Eshbaugh-Soha answers his underlying questions.
To begin with, the author defines presidential leadership as
someone who speaks to people about policies. The media is an essential factor
in garnering public support for presidential policies. Due to the end of the
“golden age of presidential television,” the president depends on more
effective communication strategies in modern media such as “journalistic
interviews, informal exchanges with reporters and daily speeches” for higher
and more adequate exposure. Advantages of modern media include radio shows and
more which allow the president to explain actions or situations that are
heavily criticized while limiting contrary journalistic interpretation by
reaching the public through his voice.
To communicate effectively with the
people, the White House has a team dedicated to that task. The Office of Communications
and the Press Office are the two main groups responsible for foreseeing that
the president’s goals are achieved. The Office of Communications persuades the
media by trying to get them to write about what the president wants the people
to hear. They attempt to block out the negative aspects of the president. The
Press Office conveys the president’s ideas to the media without the president
having to be present. Both Offices try to present the president in a right
personal image. Even though these teams are made to handle the media, the outcome
is less than desirable.
Next, the media sees the president’s
policies as that of the government’s. The president conveys an abundant amount
of policies, but the media reports a select few. The media reports the policies
in which will stir up the most controversy. The media tends to focus more on
the entertaining or scandalous aspects of the president, voiding the policies
itself from being heard. This supports the idea that people seek out
entertainment in everything. The president tries to focus on larger cities because
the news from them spreads quickly. Despite the president’s efforts, people are
staunch supporters of a vis-a-vis policy. They are not accepting of the policies
that the president tries to convey. Contrary, the president focuses on smaller
cities with physical appearances as those people tend to sway the most.
In addition to, the news gets the least amount of views on
Friday. In response to this, the White House usually reports their “bad” news
on this day to limit the amount of negativity they would receive. Eshbaugh-Soha
states that the new media is ineffective in getting the youth to participate in
politics. He says that to influence the youth, the media would have to
broadcast on platforms more relative to the youth such as late night TV or MTV.
Despite this, the youth cannot be forced to watch politics.
The author accurately expresses the
president as one who appeals to the people. The media is one of the most, if
not the most, essential resource to the presidency. The radio addresses and
local exposure for the president do, in fact, benefit him in that it gives
people more insight into his beliefs. The
team is helpful in making the president look better for the reason of gaining
more public support. Eshbaugh-Soha correctly expresses that most of the
policies the president is trying to shine a light on goes through unnoticed.
People are more interested in the entertaining aspects of the president. The
Trump administration is entertaining to the people because Trump is very
outspoken. The media thoroughly wants to appeal to the citizens as they make
more money out of increasing viewership. Also, most of the people are staunch
supporters of their original thoughts. Humans do not like when they are
incorrect, making them stick to their initial beliefs. Meanwhile, even if political television is
broadcasted to every channel, people can not be forced to watch something that
isn’t impactful to them. Contrary, youth, in fact, do pay attention to
politics. In 2018, an enormous amount of children on Twitter paid much
attention to Donald Trump’s tweets. Trump is very controversial in the way he
expresses himself. He is one of the most talked about presidents in US history.
His views are entertaining to every age group. People see him more as a class
clown. Also, it is disagreed upon that presidents need an excellent personal
image. Some of the presidents voted in came from a scandalous background.
Presidents in the present age are using presidential debates to make one
another look worse. People vote for the president who does not look the
worst. Overall, Eshbaugh-Soha portrays
some accurate information on the public presidency and also some controversial
aspects of it.