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A study of media coverage of the 1996 presidential campaign

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Title:
A study of media coverage of the 1996 presidential campaign
Creator:
Keller, Suzanne
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
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University of Colorado Denver
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English
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vi, 67 leaves : illustrations ; 29 cm

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Presidents -- Press coverage -- United States ( lcsh )
Presidents -- Election -- Press coverage -- United States -- 1996 ( lcsh )
Mass media -- Political aspects -- United States ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 66-67).
Thesis:
Political science
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Suzanne Keller.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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40274106 ( OCLC )
ocm40274106
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LD1190.L64 1998m .K45 ( lcc )

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Full Text
A STUDY OF MEDIA COVERAGE
OF THE
1996 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
by
Suzanne Keller
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1995
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
1998


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Suzanne Keller
has been approved
by
4-So-
Date


Keller, Suzanne (M.A., Political Science)
A Study of Media Coverage of the 1996 Presidential Campaign
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Tony Robinson
ABSTRACT
This thesis investigates the mainstream news medias coverage of the 1996 presidential
campaign between Labor Day and Election Day. Specifically, the study looks at the
amount of game-centered news (stories dealing with candidate strategy and winning
and losing) versus the amount of substantive news (issues and candidate positions)
featured by the three main network evening news programs and three daily
newspapers: The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and. The Denver Post.
The literature review section examines the medias coverage of past presidential
campaigns. It was found that the gamesmanship of a campaign was reported much
more frequently than substantive stories. This was true of newspapers and network
television. Further, it was also found that the over-reporting of the gamesmanship of a
campaign affected the electorate in three ways: it contributed to a lack of knowledge
about the issues, and there was an affect on both voter behavior (voting less) and voter
attitude (voters became cynical of politics).
To test the current relevance of these findings concerning the coverage of previous
elections, a content analysis was performed of random network news programs and of
selected newspaper coverage. It was discovered that the number of stories dealing
with campaign gamesmanship, and specifically candidate strategy, vastly outnumbered
those stories dealing with substantive issues. This was true of all networks and all
newspapers examined in this study. This was also true of the coverage received by
both candidates, although Senator Dole had a much higher percentage of stories about
his campaign strategy that did President Clinton.
m


Finally, solutions addressing the problems now pervasive in campaign journalism were
discussed, such as shortening the campaign or adopting new methods of reporting
presidential campaigns.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Signed
y Robinson
IV


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION.................................................1
Scope of Study...........................................3
Literature Review..................................3
Methodology........................................5
Findings...........................................5
Analysis and Conclusion............................5
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.....................................7
Campaign News Coverage and Issue Awareness...............8
Campaign News Coverage and Voter Attitude...............15
Campaign News Coverage and Voter Behavior...............17
The Decline of Campaign News........................... 19
Economic Theories of Declining News Coverage......20
Political Theories of Declining News Coverage.....23
Whos AgendaThe Medias or the Politicians?...........25
3. METHODOLOGY.................................................31
Content Analysis........................................32
Collection of Data................................33
v


Reliability.
35
Stability........................................36
Reproducibility................................. 36
Accuracy.........................................36
4. FINDINGS................................................ 38
5. ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION...................................48
Solutions..............................................52
Other Solutions........................................58
APPENDIX
A. Sample Article of Game Coverage...........................62
B. Sample Article of Substantive Coverage................... 65
WORKS CITED........................................................ 66
vi


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
While addressing a question during a presidential campaign debate in 1976,
Gerald Ford made a misstatement that derailed his campaign: there is no Soviet
dominance of Eastern Europe, he said. Upon further examination, however, Fords
unfortunate choice of words was not the reason his campaign began to unravel.
Rather, it was the medias persistent and unrelenting focus on Fords mistake and the
excessive news coverage which accompanied that intense focus.
After the debate, polls showed that people having a favorable impression of
Ford outnumbered those favoring Carter by a margin of 44 to 33 percent (Patterson,
Order 57). Within 24 hours, after repeated airing of Fords mistake, opinion swung 50
percentage points, with voters now saying Carter had won the debate, 63 to 17
percent (Patterson, Order 57). The press then continued showcasing Fords error for
almost an entire week, causing great harm to his credibility.
In the Iowa caucus in 1984, favored candidate Walter Mondale won the caucus
with 49 percent of the vote (Lichter and Noyes 10). But the media story that came
out of Iowa was that a virtually unknown candidate, Gary Hart, came in second to
Mondale, as opposed to Senator John Glenn, the candidate expected to come in
second place. For the next week, press coverage of Hart exceeded his rivals, and,
coming from behind, he beat Mondale 37 to 28 percent in the New Hampshire primary
1


(Lichter and Noyes 10). Hart was the beneficiary of momentum that was furnished by
the press. As New York Times columnist Tom Wicker so aptly summed up Harts
string of primary victories: Harts celebrity was based on the publicity that the press
gave to the upset of its awn erroneous expectations (emphasis added) (Lichter and
Noyes 11). Hart fooled the so-called experts and because of this, he became the focus
of media attention and the new frontrunner in the Democratic race.
In January of 1995, President Clinton delivered to Congress and the nation the
annual State of the Union address. Upon completion of the speech, television
commentators mocked and criticized its content and length. Newspapers followed
this trend the following day. For example, one commentary in The Washington Post
compared the length of the speech with the Presidents lack of self-discipline, using an
analogy of Clinton at a buffet table, eating everything in sight (Fallows 41).
The American public, however, had a different opinion. Viewers (eight out of
ten) liked the speech and 74 percent thought the content was useful (Fallows 42).
Nielsen ratings also found that the public did not object to the length of the speech. In
fact, the longer Clinton spoke, the higher his ratings (Fallows 42).
These anecdotes illustrate two main points that form the basis of this thesis.
First, the media have enormous influence on the electorate during a campaign, and
second, the American public desires information about public policy and are not
receiving it from the mainstream news media. Voters say they want better, more
substantive campaign coverage, but every four years the quality of campaign coverage
2


is criticized by not only the public, but also by researchers who study the media. One
of the consistent Criticisms is that during a typical presidential campaign, the media
tend to concentrate their news coverage on mostly irrelevant topics such as who is
ahead at any given moment (horse race coverage) and what strategy a candidate is
employing, or needs to employ, to get ahead or stay ahead (game coverage). Voters
would be better served, the critics contend, if the media would concentrate more on
informing the public about the candidates positions on issues and other substantive
stories.
When voters encounter game-centered stories, they behave more like
spectators than participants in the election...On the other hand, stories
about the issues and the candidates qualifications bring out the politics
in voters, eliciting evaluations of the candidates leadership and
personal traits and of their records and policy positions...(Patterson,
Order 89).
It was with this criticism of the mainstream news media in mind that I decided to
examine the last presidential campaign and determine if the criticism was applicable in
1996.
Scope of Study
This thesis is divided into three primary sections: a review of the literature, a
content analysis of media coverage of select television and newspaper stories of the
1996 campaign, and finally, an analysis and conclusion about those findings.
Literature Review
In this chapter, I examine the body of research pertaining to the mainstream
medias coverage of some of the presidential campaigns after 1976. My focus is on
3


the amount of game coverage versus substantive coverage. The literature will
conclude that network television, as well as most daily newspapers, concentrate
heavily on the gamesmanship of presidential campaigns as opposed to covering
substantive issues. These conclusions are then used in a comparison with my own data
on the 1996 campaign.
On a broader level, the literature review illustrates the different reasons why
researchers and many journalists alike feel it is important to examine the press
coverage of presidential campaigns. While most who observe and study campaign
news coverage feel the quality of coverage is lacking, their reasons for believing why
this is so vary significantly. For example, some believe that unsatisfactory campaign
coverage results in an electorate that is uninformed about the important issues facing
our nation today and therefore, is ill-equipped to make the important decisions
necessary in a democracy. Others argue that inferior campaign coverage with heavy
concentrations on the gamesmanship of a race repels voters, thereby affecting then-
behavior as evidenced in a lack of participation in the political process. Yet another
view is that when the press virtually ignore policy issues and concentrate on the
strategic aspects of a campaign, the attitudes of voters are affected, resulting in an
electorate questioning the relevance of their own vote.
In addition to looking at why the quality of news coverage of a presidential
campaign is important, the literature review both demonstrates and examines the
suspected causes of the decline in the news quality. Who is responsible for so much
4


game reporting~the media or the politicians? Why is this type of campaign reporting
prevalent and does this prevalence matter? Discovering the answers to these questions
may be beneficial in improving future election coverage.
Methodology
In this chapter, I discuss two points. First, I explain the collection of the data -
- what is included for analysis in this study and why. Second, I explain the particular
way content analysis was applied here. Content analysis is the analytical technique
used in this study to determine the categorization of a story, i.e., game or substance.
There are different methods of content analysis and some are more useful than others,
depending on the application.
Findings
The fourth chapter is a complilation of raw data gathered on the medias
coverage of Campaign 96. The data is broken down by individual networks,
newspapers and candidates.
Analysis and Conclusion
In the last chapter, I use the data analysis from the previous chapter to
demonstrate that the content of the news coverage for Campaign 96 lacked substance,
and in fact, leaned heavily toward stories dealing with campaign strategy. I also
discuss some of the possible reasons why campaign strategy was a prevailing topic in
the media. Finally, I discuss some ways to improve campaign reporting in future
elections. The data supports the argument that more mainstream news organizations
5


must reach out and provide their viewers and readers with better campaign coverage.
The important issues should find the audience as opposed to the audience trying to
find the issues. There are already enough Americans alienated by the political process
for one reason or another. Network television and daily newspapers must try to hold
on to their dwindling audience by providing a meaningful service. Campaign coverage
that includes mostly stories concerning strategy and the horse race not only deprives
voters of needed information, but is also detrimental to the political process.
6


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
When the news media focus their attention on the gamesmanship of a
presidential campaign at the expense of other, more substantive issues, the
consequences are diverse but never positive in terms of how this focus affects the
voting public. The criticisms apparent in the literature regarding this type of political
reporting can be summarized as follows:
There is an inverse relationship between an abundance of game coverage
during a campaign and voter knowledge about political issues.
There is a correlation between an abundance of game coverage and the
attitudes of voters regarding politicians and the political process itself.
There is a correlation between an abundance of game coverage and the
behavior of voters (i.e., participation in the political process).
These three assertions are discussed in this literature review. In order to begin
to discuss them in any detail, however, a brief definition of the terms game and
substantive news coverage is necessary.
In 1976, political scientist Thomas Patterson was one of the first scholars to
analyze a presidential campaign using a content analysis of television stories and
newspaper articles, as outlined in his book The Mass Media Election: How Americans
Choose Their President. One of several components that was examined by Patterson
7


was the amount of game coverage versus substantive coverage by the mainstream
news media during the campaign of 1976. Patterson considered game-centered news
as that dealing with candidate competition, including stories about winning and losing
(now commonly referred to as horse race coverage), strategy and logistics (how to
get ahead or stay ahead), and campaign appearances and campaign hoopla (Media 24).
Expanding on his definition years later, he added that game coverage also includes
the conflict that journalists prize in newswhat Jules Witcover has called the I said-
he said-I said type of story (Order 63). Conversely, substantive news coverage
deals with the candidates policy positions, their personal and leadership
characteristics, their private and public histories, background information on the
elections issues, or group commitments for and by the candidates (Patterson, Media
25). With these definitions in mind, a clearer analysis of political journalism is
possible.
Campaign News Coverage and Issue Awareness
In 1976, Patterson concluded that the nature of election news acts to diminish
the publics concern with the candidates programs and leadership (Media 176).
During the 1940's, he argued, substantive information about programs and leadership
qualities dominated election news. In a relatively short time span, the content of
campaign news had changed radically from substance-centered content to game-
centered content.
8


In 1976, television was especially inadequate in terms of providing meaningful
campaign coverage, with more than 50 percent of the coverage game-centered
(Patterson, Media 29). Television also failed to educate voters on the current issues.
In Pattersons study, respondents were interviewed intermittently over a period of
eight months on their perception of the candidates positions regarding public works
jobs, defense spending, welfare spending and taxes. For more than 90 percent of the
issue positions studied, no significant relationship was found between heavier
[television] viewing and increased issue awareness... (Media 156). This result was
not only true of people unfamiliar with politics and the candidates, but also with those
respondents that were classified as highly interested voters, people who followed
politics and were regular consumers of television and newspaper stories. Across the
board, regular television news viewers in this study were no more knowledgeable
about a candidates stand on the issues in October 1976 than they were the previous
February.
In opposition to these findings, respondents who were heavy newspaper
readers showed an increased awareness of the issues (Patterson, Media 157). There
was also a positive correlation between voter knowledge and light readers of
newspapers. The increased knowledge exhibited by study participants was not due to
the fact that the main focus of newspaper stories was issues, because it was not. The
horse race was still the main focus. With almost 50 percent of coverage devoted to
the game, Patterson concluded that the greater space available in newspapers,
9


compared to the available time in television news, allowed newspapers a much more
in-depth examination of an issue (Media 157). He found that newspapers
communicated each of the candidates issue positions in from three to 15 times as
many words as the television did (Media 157). It is not surprising, then, that even
occasional news readers were able to obtain more substantive information than
television viewers. Additionally, television typically mentioned a candidates
viewpoint two or three times a month, in segments of 20 seconds or less, and many
were indeed less than 20 seconds (Patterson, Media 159). People usually acquire and
retain detailed political information through repeated exposure, Patterson argued, and
therefore, the short and infrequent television blips were not conducive to actual
learning (Media 159).
While newspapers enhanced the knowledge of participants in Pattersons study
more than television, neither medium could be credited for exemplary reporting in
1976. Towards the end of the campaign Patterson found that more respondents did
not know where candidates Ford or Carter stood on an issue as could answer correctly
(Media 156).
There were two notable exceptions, however, regarding the benefits derived
from viewing television during the 1976 campaign. Coverage of both the presidential
debate and the party conventions clearly provided voters with meaningful information
about the candidates and the issues, particularly low to moderate interest voters who
did not possess much in the way of previous knowledge about politics (Patterson,
10


Media 164). Patterson discovered that issue awareness rose 63 percent in some cases
because of viewing the presidential debates (Media 164). It must be noted, however,
that the benefits gained from watching television resulted from viewing special
network broadcasts and not the evening news.
Although the studies conducted by Stempel and Windhauser of the 1984 and
1988 presidential campaigns did not test anyone for issue awareness as Patterson did,
they did perform an in-depth content analysis, from Labor Day through Election Day,
of 17 newspapers considered by a poll of editors to be the best in the country for news
coverage. They also included a content analysis of network evening news programs.
Their investigation found that 2/3 of newspaper and television stories dealt with
items other than the issues (Stempel and Windhauser 202). In examining newspaper
coverage, the authors concluded that the stories falling in their category of politics
and government (stories about what the candidates were doing in their campaigns)
dominated in 1984 in all but one newspaper, and in 1988, in all but three newspapers
(Stempel and Windhauser 23). The issues identified as most important to the country
during those two campaigns (the economy, health, education and science) were
virtually ignored by the newspapers.
Network news coverage was also lacking in substance, the study found, with
no dramatic difference between the two mediums. Both television and newspapers
reported on the most accessible material available, which was, of course, the
campaigns and strategy of the candidates (Stempel and Windhauser 203). (For a
11


comparison, Patterson found the strategic game had accounted for a full 3/4 of the
1988 campaign news coverage (Order 165).) It stands to reason that very little
information on the issues was learned by the electorate by way of the network evening
news programs or mainstream newspapers in 1984 or 1988.
Campaign 88 was noted for more than the substandard campaign coverage by
the news media. Most importantly, Campaign 88 was responsible for a plethora of
books criticizing presidential campaigns in general and the mainstream news medias
reporting of the 1988 campaign in particular. The election of 1988 sent an urgent
signal that something is wrong with the political soul of American democracy
(McWilliams 103). McWilliams argued that the incivilities and innuendo generated by
the candidates and their staffs were given greater force by the electronic media
(104). In particular, he cites the visual affect of ads, such as the Bush campaigns use
of Willie Hortons mug shot and the same campaigns ad of garbage floating in Boston
Harbor, both highly misleading representations of the facts regarding each issue, and
both prominently featured on network news coverage. The biggest problem with
television coverage in 1988, argues McWilliams, was the omissions by the media:
Even at its best, however, television reporting (and increasingly all reporting) shies
away from evaluating the substance, or even the accuracy, of what is said in
campaigns, preferring to discuss the strategy and process of campaigning (108).
Campaign 88 epitomized McWilliams criticism, with a passive media allowing
flagrant campaign statements to go unchallenged.
12


As in previous campaigns, however, televised coverage of presidential debates
was an exception to this criticism. In their study of issue knowledge by the electorate
during Campaign 88, Drew and Weaver found that the debates proved more
influential on knowledge than did exposure to other types of news... (27). Many
voters did indeed learn about the issues by watching the debates.
The harsh critiques of 1988 by scholars as well as by members of the news
media resulted in symposiums and other discussions attended by many of the media
elite. Their purpose was to discern not only what went wrong in 1988, but more
important, to establish methods of campaign reporting that would enhance voters
knowledge of the issues for upcoming Campaign 92. The decision was made by the
journalists to push an agenda reflecting substantive stories and to not allow politicians
and their staffs the power to dominate the campaign with photo opportunities and
sound bites. Whereas Campaign 88 was notorious for the worst in campaign
journalism, the news media were determined to make the news coverage of Campaign
92 among the best.
Unfortunately, with all their good intentions, the medias reporting of
Campaign 92 was only slightly better than 1988. Lichter and Noyes found in their
extensive investigation of the 1992 campaign that, while there were more references to
the issues from a quantitative standpoint, meaningful information coming out of these
stories was usually non-existent. When an issue, for example the economy, was
mentioned, most stories did not link the issue with any of the candidates past records
13


or current proposals on the economy, ...most media references (television and
newspaper alike) to the candidates programs resembled bumper sticker slogansbrief,
superficial, and without context. We coded 6280 references during the general
election...Most... were throw-away lines in discussions of campaign strategy or tactics
(Lichter and Noyes 95). The authors found that only 9 percent of issue references
were presented by the media in a detailed or meaningful way (95), meaning that most
references to the issues were about as useful to the voter as horse race news.
It is evident from reviewing the presidential campaigns of the last twenty years
that an understanding of the issues will not be gained from watching evening network
news programs. In 1968, the average sound bitea block of uninterrupted speech
by a candidate on television newswas 42 seconds (Patterson, Order 74). By 1992,
the average sound bite was reduced to 8.4 seconds (Lichter and Noyes 289). (Both
figures represent network evening news programs.) Newspapers were also guilty of
the same decline. Patterson reported that in 1960, the average quote by a candidate in
The New York Times was 14 lines; the average in 1992 was 6 lines (Order 75). When
a newspaper does quote a candidate, Patterson argued, the quote is usually buried in
a narrative devoted primarily to expounding the journalists view (Order 75).
(Journalists views, even if insightful, should be reserved for the opinion/editorial
pages or clearly labeled Analysis alongside the story they are referring to.) It is no
wonder, then, that many people do not leam the necessary information needed to
intelligently participate in the political process of a presidential campaign.
14


Campaign News Coverage and Voter Attitude
Besides the fact that the voting publics issue awareness is, at best, minimally
enhanced by the mainstream news media, another primary assertion by scholars and
some journalists is that the game-centered news dominating campaigns today
negatively influences the mood of the electorate. It is believed that a disproportionate
emphasis on non-issues during a campaign contributes to public cynicism about
politics, as well as the political process itself.
The scholar who has written most extensively on the subject of the correlation
between the media and public cynicism is Kathleen Hall Jamieson. She and colleague
Joseph Cappella have outlined what they refer to as three spirals of cynicism
contained in campaign news coverage (237). The first spiral simply refers to the press
and the politicians each blaming the other for the type of news coverage today. The
press justify their horse race/strategy/conflict-driven stories by accusing the politicians
of not bringing any substance into a campaign. The politicians argue that these non-
substantive stories will be reported regardless of what they say or do on the campaign
trail and that there is an abundance of substantive material to report. The cynicism of
one group feeds the other, the authors maintain, and the result is a snowball effect of
mistrust and bad feelings between the media and the campaigns.
The second spiral is a result of the first: the cynicism exhibited by the press and
politicians feeds the cynicism of the public. Witnessing the tactical focus of the press
and the conflictive, hyperbolic, dismissive rhetoric of its leaders, the publics own
15


cynicism about the press and the process is confirmed. Polls reflect these attitudes
(Cappella and Jamieson 237).
Finally, the third spiral discusses the belief by journalists and politicians that
they are each giving the voters what the voters want (Cappella and Jamieson 239).
Often, journalists assume people are as enamored with the horse race and strategy of a
campaign as they are. And some politicians may believe people want short, easy to
grasp slogans without having to get bogged down in too many details. Both of these
assumptions contribute to a lack of substance in the news.
It is the second spiral, however, which contains the most direct relevance to
my argumentthat the nature of the news coverage during a campaign affects the
perception of voters regarding the candidates and the electoral process. In 1995, the
Times Mirror Center of the People and the Press released a study which showed that
four-fifths of the public believed that politicians morals were worse than those of the
average citizen. Four-fifths thought that political authorities could never be trusted
to do the right thing (Fallows 203). Opinions such as these are not generated out of a
vacuum. The voters views of politics is partially a by-product of what they learn from
the news media. Fully two-thirds of Americans receive the majority of their political
information from television news (Lichter and Noyes 2). With this depth of
dependency on the mainstream news sources, it is only natural that the American
voters attitude about politics is heavily influenced by these same news sources.
16


When the press shape their campaign stories in a strategic framework,
Jamieson states, voters become cynical about the candidates and the political process
(Cappella and Jamieson 168). Following is an example of strategic framing by CBS
reporter Rita Braver:
President Clinton came here, to the splendor of the Grand Canyon, to
stake his claim as the environmental president by staging the mother of
all photo-opportunities...The White House said Mr. Clinton made the
announcement here in Arizona because the Utah area was too remote
to reach. But the real reason may have been that the president has
almost no chance of winning Utah, while he does have high hopes of
taking the Republican stronghold of Arizona (CBS, 9/18/96).
In this example, the reporter implies that the words and actions of the candidate are
not genuine and that his speech is merely a vehicle to capture votes. This type of
reporting reinforces the old adage that a politician will say anything to get elected.
Even if journalists are not personally cynical about politicians, their strategic framing
of stories can logically have a negative affect on the majority of Americans who
receive their political information from the mainstream media.
Campaign News Coverage and Voter Behavior
Thus far, 1 have argued that the dominance of game-centered political news
coverage does not educate voters on campaign issues, diminishing the educational
value of a campaign. Also discussed has been the adverse affect this type of
journalism has on voters attitudes. The third correlation between game-centered
news and the public are the affects on the behavior of voters.
17


Game-centered news coverage reduces the campaign to theatre, turning voters
into passive spectators. Jamieson argues that the strategy schema invites the
audience to critique a campaign as if it were a theatrical performance in which the
audience is involved only as a spectator (Jamieson 186). How did the candidate
look? Did he appear presidential? Who performed better during the debate? The
most familiar example of this type of critique is the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon debate.
Because the news media frequently report using a strategy framework, voters have
learned to view campaigns through a similar lens. Viewing the electoral process as a
contest between two personalities as opposed to two ideologies has become the norm.
This concentration on image and personality further reduces the educational value of a
campaign because the issues are usually neglected.
Continuing in this vein, because voters are reduced to spectators by game-
centered news, their involvement in the campaign decreases. Jamieson points out ...
the strategy schema minimizes audience involvement in more traditional forms of
democratic participation such as voting (Jamieson 197). Concurring with Jamieson,
Patterson adds: ...stories about the issues and the candidates qualifications bring out
the politics in voters, eliciting evaluations of the candidates leadership and personal
traits and of their records and policy positions. These stories also cultivate more
involvement...(Order 89).
Of course, the amount of game-centered news is not the only factor in
determining whether or not voters participate in an election. Party allegiance, for
18


example, is a strong indicator of voter participation (Polsby and Wildavsky 15).
However, reducing the political gamesmanship in the news and increasing the
substantive topics enhances the likelihood that citizens will exercise their right to vote.
Much of this decreased involvement in the political process is due to a feeling
of detachment which is a result of being a political spectator in lieu of a political
participant. Political scientist and media analyst Doris Graber found in her research
that people having a detached attitude about politics also believed that politics had
little affect on their lives (Graber 66). Additionally she found that people who have
removed themselves from the process did little to keep up with the news and often
ignored the news totally (Graber 66). Turning political participants and news
consumers into spectators, as game-centered news reporting often does, belittles the
political process and contributes to voter apathy.
I have shown some of the negative consequences of game-centered political
news. The next section discusses some of the prevailing views of why the quality of
the medias coverage has declined in recent years and who or what is behind the
decline.
The Decline of Campaign News
In reviewing the literature, many journalists and academics alike agree that
campaign news has declined over the last twenty-five years and all offer reasons as to
why they think this is true. In a very broad sense, the reasons can be defined as
economical and political, and these two theories are examined next. Following that, I
19


conclude the literature review by looking at the argument as to who is most a fault
that is, who is leading the decline, journalists or politicians?
Economic Theories of Declining News Coverage
The most common reason given as to why game-centered news pervades
campaign coverage in lieu of more substantive news is that substantive coverage is not
considered news. Once a story on a candidates issue position has been reported,
regardless of how many or how few people have been exposed to the story, it no
longer has news value. Because the news is what is different about events of the past
24 hours, the newsworthiness of what a candidate says about public policies is limited.
To be specific, once a candidate makes known his position on an issue, further
statements concerning that issue decline in news value (Patterson, Media 30). The
length of the campaign makes it impossible for candidates to have newsworthy
statements every day, and the result is the medias search for what is new, usually
horse race or strategy-driven stories.
Part of this search for news is boredom on the part of journalists. Traveling
with a campaign for many months and hearing many of the same speeches over and
over, journalists, understandably, look for any variation for their daily report. If they
do not report it, their competitor will, and game coverage usually fills this void.
Washington Post columnist David Broder quotes a fellow journalist to explain why
horse race coverage permeates campaign news: Why do we do it? Tradition. Habit.
Laziness. Because, sometimes, our editors want us to do it. Because we see politics
20


as a kind of game, a race between various performers, and were the timekeepers.
Because its easy and because, maybe, its fun (Broder 242).
Attempting to stave off monotony, however, is a small part of why reporters
offer up an over-abundance of strategy-driven campaign stories. The bottom line for
networks and newspapers is money, and an exciting story will be more apt to draw
viewers and sell newspapers. The primary function of the mass media is to attract
and hold a large audience for advertisers. They also inform and entertain...but
informing and entertaining are only means to the end of providing a mass audience for
advertisers (Jamieson and Campbell 4).
Advertisers, of course, wanting to reach the largest audience, pay attention to
television ratings and newspaper sales. The result, argues journalist James Fallows, is
that networks and newspapers, bought out by massive corporations and chains over
the last twenty years, are being run like businesses:
Bottom-line pressurefor survival in newspapers, for increased ratings
and profits in TVhas made editors more like managers, and has made
reporters more conscious of increasing their flexibility and
salability...These changes...have weakened the medias ability to tell us
what we need to know (73).
It is no coincidence that three of the most respected newspapers in the country, The
Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times still have a large
percentage of their stock controlled by original family members (Fallows 71). These
families have tried to keep their newspapers from being dominated by a corporate
mentality.
21


It is that need for reporters to be salable that has encouraged many to include
an edge, or spin, in their stories. More than 10,000 reporters currently cover
Washington DC on a daily basis (Lichter and Noyes 5), all covering the same stories,
and all competing with one another in an effort to add something original to their
reports. Their originality often comes in the form of what Fallows calls a kicker, an
ending to their story that contrasts what the politician said with what the reporter
believes (61). This style of reporting may enable a reporter to make his or her mark,
but it also contributes to viewers finding reporters cynical and politicians
untrustworthy. But reporters feel they have no choice due to the stiff competition they
face as well as a need to respond to the spin they feel politicians use all of the time.
Ending stories with a kicker enables a reporter to stand out from the rest of the
journalists, enhancing his or her news program, and hopefully that programs ratings.
In addition to the findings that game-centered news is considered more
newsworthy than issue coverage, and that ratings play a large part in how a story is
covered, game-centered news is also prevalent on television and in newspapers
because it is easy to report and entails no additional spending for research by the news
organization. Saying whether a new Medicare proposal makes sense or not requires
learning something about budgets and health care. Saying whether it helps or hurts
Bob Dole can be done off the top of the head (Fallows 146). Fallows goes on to call
this type of reporting the equivalent of water cooler conversations because
journalists often report what they have discussed that day with other journalists.
22


Political scientist and campaign analyst Lany Sabato concurs with this view, stating:
Most journalists are generalists, unfamiliar with the nuances and complexities of many
issues and therefore unprepared to focus on them in news stories (McCubbins 129).
This water-cooler reporting costs the news organization nothing in research time
and is easy for the reporter to put together quickly in order to meet the days
impending deadline.
Political Theories of Declining News Coverage
It is not the news organization, reporters, or the political candidates that are
responsible for the decline in the quality of political journalism according to some.
The political system, argued Thomas Patterson, and specifically the reforms as called
for by the McGovem-Fraser Commission, are at the root of the problem (Order 33).
McGovern-Fraser. The main purpose of the McGovem-Fraser reforms of
1970 (adopted at the Democratic National Convention in 1972) was to change the
presidential nominating process in order to make it more open and fair. In the
previous campaign of 1968, Hubert Humphrey received the Democratic nomination
over Eugene McCarthy after having never competed in a primary. The party was
already deeply divided over the Viet-Nam War, and Humphreys nomination by party
elite and former Johnson supporters exacerbated the problem. The new rules were
designed to remove power from political insiders by ruling out the use of party
caucuses and delegate primaries to select delegates in favor of more open
conventions and candidate primaries in which prospective delegates would run as
23


committed to a particular presidential candidate (McCubbins 18). The end result was
a change from a system of one-third primary states and two-thirds convention states to
nearly three-fourths of convention delegates chosen by voters in primary elections
(Patterson, Order 31).
More significantly than this systemic change, however, was the resultant
change in the increased role of the press and the corresponding decreased role of the
political party in presidential campaigns. The party had been the vehicle by which
candidates were selected and evaluated, but the new reforms inadvertently gave this
power to the media. The media now found themselves able to determine which
candidates were viable merely by the amount of news coverage they gave a candidate.
The candidates needed the volume of publicity only the media could give. Although
the new process seemed workable, there were inevitable problemsthe primary one
being that news organizations have a different objective than do political parties.
Patterson expands on this point: The proper organization of electoral opinion
requires an institution...capable of seeing the larger picture...and it must be
accountable for its choices, so that the public can reward it when satisfied and force
amendments when dissatisfied. The press has none of these characteristics (Order
36).
Additionally, Patterson believes that the new role of the press conflicts with
their traditional role, that of political watchdogs. It is impossible, maintains Patterson,
for the watchdog press to play the old party role of coalition-buildersbringing voters
24


and candidates together (Order 51). Watchdog journalism (protecting the electorate
by scrutinizing candidates behaviors) achieves the opposite of coalition-building; it
separates the voters from the candidates. Add to this conflict the fact that the medias
main goal is to attract an audience. The need for an audience outweighs the need to
inform, and the result often is substandard election news coverage.
Whos AgendaThe Medias or the Politicians?
As we have seen, there are divergent views in the literature as to why
campaign news coverage is often inferior. The question addressed at this point to
conclude the literature review is Who is responsible for perpetuating this type of news
coverage? Of course, the politicians and the press each blame each other.
As previously discussed, Patterson found the political system most at fault for
todays news coverage, not necessarily the politicians or the media. At the same time,
however, he also believes that the politicians do give the media an abundance of
substantial news items to report and that the media, for myriad reasons already
discussed, choose to report on the game aspects of the campaign. Patterson claims,
for example, that politicians speak in sound bites because anything longer or more
thoughtful will not appear in the news that day (Order 159). Further, the one-liners
that are often the sound bites heard on the evening news contain the controversy the
press desires. Dukakiss Good Jobs at Good Wages had no chance of competing
with Bushs Read My Lips. (Patterson, Order 160). Campaign consultants believe
that the only way their candidate is guaranteed news coverage is through the use of
25


snappy sound bites. The media, then, in Pattersons opinion, are more at fault than the
politicians for perpetuating inferior campaign news coverage.
In their analysis of the 1992 campaign, Lichter and Noyes found that the media
was directly responsible for ignoring the issues, even though the information was there
to report: This was primarily a result of journalists choices, not the candidates
failures. Their speeches contained far more substance than the news accounts
conveyed; they provided the raw material for any number of substantive pieces that
were never written or broadcast (127).
Probably the strongest indictment against the media comes from within its own
ranks by journalist James Fallows. The basis of Fallows criticism is that the national
press corps craving for celebrity status and astronomical salaries and speaking fees
has resulted in a change in journalistic values. Instead of reporting issues important to
the nation, ...mainstream journalism has fallen into the habit of portraying public life
in America as a race to the bottom, in which one group of conniving, insincere
politicians ceaselessly tries to outmaneuver another (7). Fallows charges his
colleagues with passing on to the American public their own cynicism and distrust of
politicians.
The worst aspect of this attitude is that new ideas offered by politicians often
are not covered by the media in any depth. Fallows cites Clintons health care
proposal as an example. What appeared in the newspapers and on television, for the
most part, was not a thoughtful discussion of the merits of the Clinton health care
26


plan. What did appear were the inside political battles, Hillary Clintons role in the
debate, and ill-informed journalists issuing their own thumbs-up and thumbs-down on
an incredibly complicated piece of legislation. Fallows cites a study of the medias
coverage of the health care issue: ...despite a years worth of coverage, the public
remained contused on basic factual issues about the contents of the Clinton plan...
(226). An opportunity for public debate and education on a subject most Americans
care deeply about was squandered by the elite media.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, however, would place the majority of the blame for
the downward spiral of campaign coverage on the candidates. She claims the
candidates employ all available strategies for manipulating the press (Jamieson and
Campbell 265). This is done by creating pseudo-events designed strictly for media
coverage and by limiting the medias access to candidates. The staged events do not
offer any substantive news. The limited access to candidates (Reagan was the best
example) denies the voters an opportunity to hear directly from the candidate without
the screen of his political handlers. The resulting news coverage is lacking in
substance in part because the media spend their time pointing out the theatrics of a
campaign or the strategy behind the inaccessibility of the candidate (Jamieson and
Campbell 266).
Journalist David Broder agrees with Jamiesons assessment. He reflects back
to the Nixon administration as the origin of limiting the presss access to candidates.
Said an anti-press Nixon: I think the American people are entitled to see the President
27


and to hear his views directly and not to see him only through the press (Broder 165).
Limiting press conferences is a way to prevent gaffes and to maintain tight control of a
campaign. In 1984, President Reagan avoided all formal news conferences...from late
June until Election Day (Broder 241). Bush followed similar tactics. When
candidates avoid the media, the media is left reporting on the horse race, trivia, and
gossip.
Finally, in their analysis of the 1984 and 1988 campaigns, Stempel and
Windhauser concluded that politicians set the campaign agenda, and with negative
results: We believe that the lack of coverage... largely reflects what the candidates
did...They didnt get coverage because the candidates did not address them [the
issues]... (205). One of their research conclusions is that the press should take a
more enterprising role in pursuing the issues and not allow candidates to control
campaign news coverage.
In the final analysis, the question as to who is setting the agenda for campaign
coverage has become a classic chicken-and-egg argument. Those who believe the
candidates are responsible also concede that the press is often hostile and candidates
are then forced to tightly control (stage) everything they say and do. Those who
believe the media bear responsibility for setting an agenda of substandard news
coverage admit that the proliferation of political consultants and handlers by
presidential candidates lend an air of distrust to the campaign. Both views are
thoughtfully summarized by journalist David Broder:
28


The conflict will not likely be resolved. Candidates always want to be
taken at face value and to have us report their words just as they
deliver them, without interpretation, analysis, or comment, even when
they and their agents have obviously glossed their own product and
denigrated the opposition. And the press is sometimes guilty of
seeking secret motives and stratagems even where none exist, and of
reporting campaigns as if they were all tactics and no substance. Both
sides--the press and the candidatesare too conscious of each other
and not mindful enough of the third parties outside our cliquereaders,
viewers, voters (297).
It is true that both the media and the candidates can share responsibility for an
abundance of game coverage and lack of substantive news coverage. For the general
public, however, who is to blame for the decline in the quality of political journalism is
not as significant as how this decline affects the political process.
This literature review addressed some of the consequences apparent when
gamesmanship dominates campaign news. News consumers, especially those receiving
their information from network news, learn very little about the important issues of the
day. When newspapers report on substantive matters, they generally do a better job
than the networks; however, all too frequently newspapers also devote most of their
space to stories concerning campaign strategy and the horse race. With the exception
of news concerning campaign debates and party conventions, studies show that the
mainstream news media generally fail to educate their audiences.
The abundance of game coverage has been found to negatively affect the
attitudes of some, contributing to a cynical view of the politics and politicians.
Additionally, a steady diet of political gamesmanship in the news has a tendency to
keep voters away from the polls on election day. Whether the cause of poor campaign
29


coverage lies more with the media for turning its back on substance in favor of stories
that sell, or with the politcal system itself is a debateable point. As with most
complex problems, there are no simple solutions. The concern in this study, however,
lies more with the media. In the next chapter, METHODOLOGY, I discuss my
examination of the mainstream news medias coverage of Campaign 96, and the
means used to accomplish this end.
30


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
To reiterate, the major investigation in this paper is how the mainstream news
media covered the presidential campaign in 1996 in terms of the amount of game
coverage versus the amount of substantive coverage.
Game coverage consisted of horse race news (stories about winning and
losing), strategy-centered news (stories dealing with how to get ahead or stay ahead in
the campaign), or stories about campaign appearances. An example of a game-
centered article in 1996 was entitled For Clinton, Dole, Big Five States Hold Key to
Election. The article discussed the 99 electoral votes at stake in these five states,
how each candidate fared in each state, and what each candidate needed to do to win
each of these states. See Appendix A for article.
Substantive news coverage predominantly dealt with stories explaining a
candidates position (or past positions) on matters of public policy and/or current
issues, general articles explaining the importance or background of an issue, or stories
about a candidates qualifications for the presidency. An example of a substantive
news story in 1996 was entitled Clinton Not to Blame for Rise in Teen Drug Use,
Experts Say. This article tracked and discussed the use of illegal drugs. Also
included was Doles and Clintons actions and comments on the subject. See
Appendix B for article.
31


Content Analysis
This study seeks to emulate the study by Professor Thomas E. Patterson in his
book The Mass Media Election: How Americans Choose Their President. One of the
many things Patterson examines in his campaign studies is the amount of game
coverage versus substantive coverage by the news media. It is this portion of his
studies that I have used as a model for my analysis of the campaign stories of 1996.
The basic methodology which has been employed in conducting this study is
content analysis. Content analysis is defined as a systematic technique for analyzing
message content and message handling~it is a tool for observing and analyzing the
overt communication behavior of selected communicators (Budd, Thorton and
Donohew 2). The communicators in this case were the news media, specifically
newspapers and network television. Content analysis is used heavily in research in the
social sciences, especially when a careful reading (or listening) of material is required.
Content analysis can be quantitative, qualitative, or a combination of the two. For
example, a quantitative analysis of a newspaper article could entail counting the
number of times a particular word occurs. An example of a qualitative analysis might
be a search for the appearance of, or omission of, a particular idea. Either quantitative
or qualitative analysis is considered a legitimate form of content analysis.
Often, however, a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis is
desired, as was the case with this investigation. A qualitative examination of news
stories was needed because what was being investigated could not fit neatly under the
32


heading of a particular word or single idea. This investigation entailed coding a story
based on its major theme (game or substance). An understanding of the story, in its
entirety, was necessary. After all stories were coded, a quantitative compilation was
made enabling a clear summary of the findings.
Collection of Data
Campaign related news articles from three different newspapers were
examined: The Los Angeles Times, selected for its wide readership and western
location; The Washington Post, selected for its eastern location and for its unique,
insider perspective on politics; and The Denver Post, a local newspaper representing a
wide readership in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Patterson examined four different newspapers: The Los Angeles Times, The
Los Angeles Herald Examiner, The Erie (PA) Times, and The Erie News. Patterson
chose these newspapers for three reasons. First, he wanted to compare two diverse
media markets, one large and one small. Second, because he was also interviewing
people within these communities, he wanted a sampling of a fairly homogenous
population (Erie) and a diverse one (Los Angeles). Lastly, he wanted the communities
to be located in different parts of the country.
Because of the lack of accessibility to any newspapers other than those few
nationally distributed papers, I was unable to replicate Pattersons sources with the
exception of The Los Angeles Times. I chose papers in Denver and Washington, DC
to meet his call for regional diversity.
33


The articles chosen were all campaign related news stories. In keeping with
Pattersons model, editorials were excluded. Editorials, were excluded because they
are found, generally, in a separate section of a newspaper and are not presented as
news, but as opinion. It is news reporting that is under investigation in this study.
The articles used are from the time period of September 1 through Election
Day, 1996: a span of approximately 64 days. This period was chosen because Labor
Day has traditionally been known as the beginning of the main, and final, leg of a
presidential campaign. Pattersons time span for investigation was January 1 through
Election Day, 1976. In addition to the general election, he was interested in the news
coverage of the primaries. I chose only to investigate the general election because it is
the usual time span studied in many other campaign studies, and because of the
unlikely feasibility of one person covering so much material in my allotted time span.
In newspaper analyses, my unit of measurement was the article. If it was not
abundantly clear after reading the article as to which category it belonged, game or
substance, the next unit of measurement was the paragraph, with paragraphs counted
to determine the content of the majority of the article. In a telephone conversation
with Professor Patterson, I learned that it is highly unusual to have to go to this length,
however, because most articles obviously lean in one direction or the other.
I also examined the three main evening news programs: ABC World News
Tonight with Peter Jennings; CBS Evening News with Dan Rather; and NBC Nightly
News with Tom Brokaw. These programs were chosen because of their availability
34


to all viewers. (The availability of CNN is limited to those with cable subscriptions.)
Shows were taped at random, averaging 10 per week. Because CBS News (6:00 p.m.)
had a time slot different from the other two programs (which both aired at 5:30 p.m.),
there are more recordings of the CBS program. Due to my inability to record the
other two programs simultaneously, I alternated their taping. I do not feel that this
detracts from the legitimacy of the study because in most previous studies (including
Pattersons) the networks were so similar in their campaign coverage that the results
were lumped together. Patterson also examined the networks evening news
coverage, and chose the news days he used randomly.
In examining the network programs, the unit of measurement was the story.
Again, if there was any doubt as to classification of the story, the unit of measurement
was further tightened and the story content was measured in seconds. The time span
analyzed was the same as the time span for newspapers: September 1 through Election
Day, 1996. Patterson studied the network news programs from January 1 through
Election Day, again incorporating the primaries in his investigation.
Reliability
In an effort to assure reliability of the content analysis for this study, I have
followed the guidelines of Dr. Klaus Krippendorff, a Professor of Communication
from the University of Pennsylvanias Annenburg School of Communication,
contained in his book Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology.
Krippendorff outlines three criteria to test reliability:
35


Stability
Stability is the degree to which a process is invariant or unchanging over time.
Stability becomes manifest under test-retest conditions, such as when the same coder
is asked to code a set of data twice, at different points in time (130). I have used this
practice and have intermittently gone back and blindly recoded random articles, over a
time span of approximately she months, making sure my results are consistent. After
recoding 26 articles, 24 matched the original findings, which is a level of consistency
of 92.3%.
Reproducibility
Reproducibility is the degree to which a process can be recreated under
varying circumstances, at different locations, using different coders (131). In this
study, I had three graduate students at the University of Colorado Denver code the
same ten articles. The articles were chosen randomly, but I did make sure that the
sample included articles from each category. Each person was given the same written
coding instructions. This test checked for my own inconsistencies or biases, as well as
inconsistencies or biases among the different coders. Of the 30 articles coded,
reliability exceeded 93%.
Accuracy
Accuracy is the degree to which a process functionally conforms to a known
standard... and is met when the performance of one coder...is compared with what is
known to be the correct performance or measure (131). For this study, the measure
36


of accuracy would be comparing my coding with that of Patterson. Pattersons raw
data is not available. Therefore, this was not possible. However, measures of stability
and reproducibility (two of the three criteria of reliability) indicate that the content
analysis in this study meets academic requirements.
The next chapter (FINDINGS) is a compilation of the raw data gathered on the
medias coverage of the 1996 election. The results will show the mainstream news
medias strong penchant towards reporting campaign coverage in the form of game
and strategy as opposed to covering substantive topics more useful to voters.
37


CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS
A content analysis of the 1996 campaign coverage by ABC, NBC and CBS
evening news, and The Los Angeles Times, The Denver Post and The Washington Post
newspapers, revealed what was predicted: an overwhelming number of stories
emphasizing the political game within a campaign. Specifically, the findings show that
the campaign strategy of a candidate (how he planned to get ahead or stay ahead) was
the main focus of the news sources analyzed for this study.
There were a total of 605 campaign news stories analyzed for their content.
Table 4.1 shows the breakdown:
TABLE 4,1 NUMBER OF NEWS STORIES ANALYZED
ABC NBC CBS LA DENVER WASH
NEWS NEWS NEWS TIMES POST POST
54 14 48 161 123 205
The following tables show how each of these news sources break down
according to game and substantive news coverage per candidate.
38


TABLE 4.2 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE
NETWORK TELEVISION
9-1-96-11-4-96
ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT
Game 61% (33 stories)
Substance 22% (12 stories)
Other* 17% ( 9 stories)
Total 100% (54 stories)
CBS EVENING NEWS
Game 67% (32 stories)
Substance 29% (14 stories)
Other* 4% ( 2 stories)
Total 100% (48 stories)
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS
Game 64% (9 stories)
Substance 29% (4 stories)
Other* 7% (1 story)
Total 100% (14 stories)
*Othef includes stories about health records, campaign finance, etc., that did not fall
within the definition of game or substance.
39


TABLE 4.3 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE
NETWORK TELEVISION BY CANDIDATE
9-1-96-11-4-96
CLINTON
Game 62% (26 stories)
Substance 24% (10 stories)
Other* 14% ( 6 stories)
Total 100% (42 stories)
DOLE
Game 80% (40 stories)
Substance 12% ( 6 stories)
Other* 8% (4 stories)
Total 100% (50 stories)
COMBINATION**
Game 42% (10 stories)
Substance 58% (14 stories)
Other* 0 0
Total 100% (24 stories)
*Other includes stories about health records, campaign finance, etc., that did not fall
within the definition of game or substance.
* Combination stories contain information about each candidate.
40


TABLE 4.4 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
9-1-96-11-4-96
CLINTON
Game 67% (30 stories)
Substance 20% (9 stories)
Other* 13% ( 6 stories)
Total 100% (45 stories)
DOLE
Game 79% (60 stories)
Substance 8% ( 6 stories)
Other* 13% (10 stories)
Total 100% (76 stories)
COMBINATION
Game 52% (21 stories)
Substance 20% (8 stories)
Other* 28% (11 stories)
Total 100% (40 stories)
LOS ANGELES TIMES SUMMARY
Total number of stories = 161
Total number game stories = 111 (69%)
Total number substantive stories = 23 (14%)
Total number other stories = 27 (17%)
41


TABLE 4,5 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE
THE DENVER POST
9-1-96-11-4-96
CLINTON
Game 61% (28 stories)
Substance 22% (10 stories)
Other* 17% (8 stories)
Total 100% (46 stories)
DOLE
Game 75% (43 stories)
Substance 20% (11 stories)
Other* 5% (3 stories)
Total 100% (57 stories)
COMBINATION
Game 65% (13 stories)
Substance 30% (6 stories)
Other* 5% (1 story)
Total 100% (20 stories)
DENVER POST SUMMARY Total number of stories = 123
Total number of game stories = 84 (68%)
Total number of substantive stories = 27 (22%)
Total number of other = 12 (10%)
42


TABLE 4.6 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE
THE WASHINGTON POST
9-1-96 11-4-96
CLINTON
Game 60% (47 stories)
Substance 18% (14 stories)
Other* 22% (17 stories)
Total 100% (78 stories)
DOLE
Game 70% (62 stories)
Substance 17% (15 stories)
Other* 13% (11 stories)
Total 100% (88 stories)
COMBINATION
Game 31% (12 stories)
Substance 54% (21 stories)
Other* 15% (6 stories)
Total 100% (39 stories)
WASHINGTON POST SUMMARY
Total number of stories = 205
Total number game stories = 121 (59%)
Total number substantive stories = 50 (24%)
Total number of other = 34 (17%)
43


TABLE 4.7 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE
SUMMARY
Network LA Denver Washington
News Times Post Post
Game 64% 69% 68% 59%
Substance 26% 14% 22% 24%
Other 10% 17% 10% 17%
ALL NEWS SOURCES SUMMARY
Total number of stories =
Total number game stories =
Total number substantive stories =
Total number other =
605
390 (64%)
130 (22%)
85 (14%)
44


A comparison of the numbers from the 1996 general election with those of
Pattersons study done in 1976 revealed that while game coverage outweighed
substantive coverage twenty years ago, there was not yet the dominance of the game
aspects in campaign news as it exists today. In the two direct comparisons able to be
made with Patterson (network news and The Los Angeles Times), the findings are
striking. Patterson found in 1976 that network news coverage consisted of 51%
game, 35% substance and 14% other (Media 29). In 1996, network news game
coverage jumped to 64%, and substantive coverage dropped to 26%. A more drastic
increase in game coverage was evident in comparing The Los Angeles Times of today
with twenty years ago: 42% of coverage was game in 1976 as compared to 69% in
1996, while substantive coverage decreased from 42% to 14%. This change in the
content of campaign news coverage has taken place gradually, over the last twenty
years (Patterson, Order 74), but a side-by-side comparison such as this quickly
illustrates the profound changes evident in campaign journalism.
In reviewing the findings, all news sources analyzed contained more game-
centered news than substantive news in 1996. (Game-centered news included stories
pertaining to campaign strategy, campaign appearances and the horse race.) There is
one exception to this trend. In network news coverage, as well as in The Washington
Post, more substantive stories than game stories were found under the classification of
Combination. Combination stories contained information about both candidates,
usually in the form of a direct comparison between conflicting ideologies. The
45


networks featured special analysis segments, such as CBS In Touch With America
and ABCs Reality Check. These features generally examined the candidates stands
on issues and their voting records or past comments on those issues, allowing the
viewer to form some type of comparison between the two candidates. These segments
were lengthy for television news (about five minutes) and were, without doubt, the
most informative stories featured on network television. Unforunately, these stories
were a small minority of the total coverage. The Washington Post featured a similar
format, entitled Where They Stand, which was run the last few weeks of the
campaign.
Another finding was that Senator Dole received much more game coverage
than did President Clinton. Doles game coverage ranged from 10 to 18 percentage
points higher that Clintons, depending on the news source. The majority of these
stories were strategy driven-discussing tactics the Dole campaign used in an attempt
to catch Clinton in the polls. For example, new strategies by Dole included his anti-
drug Just Dont Do It campaign, calling Clintons staff criminals, calling for
Clintons health records, calling Clinton a liberal, and making campaign finance an
issue. At one point, ABC correspondent James Wooten declared there was a certain
sadness about watching Dole trying to find a message that resonated with voters.
Indeed, many campaign stories on Senator Dole that contained some substance were
framed in such a way as to make many of his ideas appear tactical, at best, and often
times gimmicky:
46


From The Los Angeles Times:
Attempting to defy the polls and reverse his fortunes, Bob Dole on
Tuesday returned to the one issue his campaign believes could still win
the election for himhis pledge to cut personal income tax rates by
15%. Dole has vacillated from one theme to another during much of
the campaign...(Shogren and Peterson A4).
From The Denver Post:
Bob Doles new campaign urgency propelled him in all directions
yesterday as he lobbed tougher character charges at PresidentClinton,
and, at one point, referred to him as Bozo (Feeney 1 A).
Also from The Denver Post:
Amid cases of motor oil, charcoal briquets and pizza flour...Bob Dole
yesterday tried a type of campaigning he has largely avoided until now-
a 30 minute, free-flowing conversation with a curious, invitation-only,
audience of supporters (Nagoumey 5A).
Bob Doles campaign was largely portrayed as desperate and indecisive, with most of
his ideas relayed by the media as campaign strategy designed to boost his poll ratings.
In the next chapter, ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION, I briefly discuss these
findings. Following that, I then discuss some ideas about how to improve campaign
news coverage.
47


CHAPTER 5
ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION
An examination of Campaign 96 revealed two findings. The first finding was
that the number of stories dealing with campaign strategy had increased over the
previous presidential campaign, while the number of stories having any substantive
merit remained low. The second finding was that the sheer number of stories carried
on network news about the campaign dropped significantly compared to 1992. The
former finding is a result of my investigation of the campaign as detailed in Chapter 4.
The latter finding is a result drawn from another study, but is discussed here because
both findings are closely related and because the latter result helps to illuminate my
study of Campaign 96.
Although the finding that the mainstream news media covered the political
game more often than substantive stories was an expected one, the numbers were
higher than anticipated. On average, 64% of the 605 stories evaluated in this study
were game-centered. Because of the many criticisms of previous campaign coverage,
I expected this number to be at least 10 to 20 percentage points lower. Unfortunately,
the medias effort to report more substantive stories fell short. Often, as noted in the
literature review, issues were alluded to, but rarely explained. Following is a typical
example of this from the 1996 campaign:
A combative Bob Dole brought the Republican presidential campaign
to Denver for the sixth time yesterday, delivering a stinging, at times
48


humorous, denunciation of Clinton administration ethics while touting
education reform and his tax-cut plan (Bettelheim Al).
This article continues for another eighteen paragraphs (a relatively long story) with no
other mention of Doles education reform, and stating only that his tax plan, according
to Dole, would give working families more money for child care, mortgage payments
and vacations. The story does, however, discuss at length the current polls and
Doles campaign plans.
Most of the game-centered stories in this study discussed the candidates
strategies. The number of pure horse race stories was not high, reflecting the absence
of a close race. (Polls continually showed that Clinton had an insurmountable lead.)
From the beginning, Dole was portrayed by the media as a candidate who did not have
a chance to win the presidency. The media did, however, report how he was
attempting to improve his poll numbers. These campaign strategy stories account for
a majority of the game-related news coverage in this study. Reinforcing my own
conclusions, a study done by the Center for Media and Public Affairs found that the
top three topics on the network news were, in order, Doles strategy, Clintons
strategy, and the tone of the Dole campaign (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 3).
In every news source examined for this study, Senator Dole received a larger
percentage of game-centered news coverage than did President Clinton. This trend
occurred not only because of the medias negative view of Doles chances for
winning, but also because of the advantages given an incumbent president:
49


Everything the president does is news and is widely reported by the
media. The issues to which the president devotes his attention are
likely to become the national issues because of his unique visibility and
capacity to center public attention on matters he deems important. To
this extent, he is in a position to focus public debate on issues he thinks
are most advantageous (Polsby and Wildavsky 96).
For example, less than two months before the election, President Clinton signed an
order which designated 1.7 million acres of canyon lands in southern Utah as a
national monument. He took advantage of his high profile, signing a popular
environmental initiative. The media responded with pictures of the President signing
the initiative with breathtaking vistas of the Grand Canyon in the background.
Incumbency allowed Clinton many photo opportunities, as well as heightened media
coverage of bill signings and White House ceremonies.
Interestingly, the abundance of news coverage afforded an incumbent is often
negative. According to the Center for Media and Public Affairs, Incumbent
presidents typically endure highly negative media coverage when they run for a second
term (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 3). However, fifty percent of President Clintons
press coverage was positive between Labor Day and the election, surpassing
incumbents Bush, Reagan and Carter (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 3). The challenger,
Senator Dole, received only 33% positive news coverage between Labor Day and
Election Day (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 3).
Finally, there was less campaign news on the network evening programs than
during Campaign 92 and Campaign 88. In fact, between Labor Day and Election
Day 96, network airtime of campaign news dropped a full 50% over 1992~from 24.6
50


minutes per evening to 12.3 minutes (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 1). (These numbers
represent a total from all three networks.) Incredibly, within this small time frame, a
full 73% of the coverage was expended by journalists: ...only 13% [of the coverage]
featured comments from the candidates themselves (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 1). Of
these direct comments, the average comment lasted 8.2 seconds, the lowest average
soundbite ever recorded (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 1).
The low number of stories presented by the networks in Campaign 96, as well
as the brevity of the stories that did air, indicate a lack of interest in the presidential
campaign. With Clinton owning a steady double digit lead throughout the campaign,
there was no real race to report, and therefore, most mainstream media sources paid
scant attention to the campaign.
In summary, this study showed that the mainstream medias coverage of
Campaign 96, during the general election period, consisted primarily of game-
centered stories, and specifically on candidate strategy. This was true of newspapers
and network television programs: 65% and 64% were game-centered campaign
stories, respectively. Additionally, Senator Dole received a larger portion of the game
coverage: network television featured non-substantive stories about the Dole
campaign 80% of the time versus 62% for the Clinton campaign. Newspaper
coverage was not much of an improvement: on average, 75% of the articles about
Senator Dole were game related, versus 63% for Clinton. This result was most likely
51


related to the fact that Senator Dole was forever playing catch-up to a commanding
Clinton lead, and the president was using his incumbency to his advantage.
These findings, combined with the results from the Center for Media and
Public Affairs showing a sizeable decline of campaign coverage in general, reflect an
unfortunate trend in campaign journalism. Game-related stories outnumbering stories
about important issues has been an ongoing occurrence, especially obvious since the
1970's (Patterson, Order 74). Stories about winning and losing (horse race) have
always existed. What is different in the last 25 years is that a candidates strategy is
now prevalent in news, and this prevalance continues to dominate and grow:
The strategic game is embedded in virtually every aspect of election
news, dominating and driving it. The game sets the context, even when
issues are the subject of analysis. The game, once the backdrop in
news of the campaign, is now so pervasive that it is almost inseparable
from the rest of election content (Patterson, Order 69).
Solutions
In this study, it has been shown that the media over-report stories that lack
substance and emphasize a candidates strategy during a presidential campaign. The
reasons for this lack of quality in campaign journalism have also been discussed. To
reiterate, these reasons include the changing role of the press, and economic factors
due to an increased corporate mentality of networks and newspapers. Additionally,
specific to Campaign 96, was the fact that a lack of a close race served to intensify the
strategic coverage. In concluding, I address some solutions as to how to improve the
medias coverage of presidential campaigns.
52


If Thomas Patterson could make one change in the way presidential campaigns
are currently conducted, it would be to shorten the campaign. The state of nature
that we call the media campaign is, to rephrase the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, nasty,
brutish, and longmuch too long (Order 206). The media, candidates and the
electorate would benefit from a shorter campaign season. As previously discussed,
one of the reasons the media spend so much time reporting campaign strategy is their
need to deliver a fresh story to their audiences. After several months on the campaign
trail, most substantive stories seem stale, particularly to the reporter, and a new angle
must be found. The media are under tremendous pressure to report something new
every day because of the race for the best television ratings and newspaper sales. A
shorter campaign would leave the press less time for stories pertaining to election
strategy and the horse race.
Additionally, Patterson states that contrary to common opinion, a long
campaign does not enable voters to better learn about their choices for president:
Over the course of a long campaign, the voters get distracted from the performance
of government, as lesser issues compete for their attention... (a) year-long campaign
actually makes the candidates politics less intelligible to voters than would be a
shorter one (Order 210). This inability to get to know a candidate is not only due to
voter distraction. Candidates also have difficulty focusing on one meaningful agenda
over a long period of time. This is because they are pulled in two directions: trying to
outline their ideas to voters while simultaneously trying to gamer media attention.
53


Therefore, there is a tendency to spend time trying to come up with something
newsworthy in order to appear on the evening news or tomorrows front page. To
the delight of the media, the result is usually a catchy sound bite or a colorful photo
opportunity. A shortened presidential campaign would aid in keeping all parties
focused on the issues that the electorate care most about.
One last reason Patterson believes an abbreviated campaign would be
beneficial is the fact that as a campaign progresses, the coverage by the media
becomes increasingly negative (Order 210). Based on favorable and unfavorable
references about nominees by Time and Newsweek magazines during presidential
campaigns from 1972 through 1992, Patterson found that during the primaries 45% of
their coverage was negative. By the general election phase of the campaign (Labor
Day through Election Day) negative coverage rose to over 60% (Order 210). He
states that this negativity escalates because there is a tendency for negative themes to
become embedded in journalists narrative of the campaign as the campaign wears on
(Patterson, Order 210). According to Patterson, this occurs because of the
antipolitics bias of the press due to the Viet Nam and Watergate eras, which
poisoned the relationship between journalists and politicians (Order 19). In 1996,
the numbers were similar to Pattersons past studies. Stories about the candidates
featured on the network evening newscasts were, on average, negative 58% of the
time (50% negative for Clinton, and 67% negative for Dole) (Lichter and Lichter, Nov
4). Stories about the 96 campaign itself were overwhelmingly negative: The quality
54


of Campaign 96 was criticized by 92% of network reporters and nonpartisan sources
(Lichter and Lichter, Mar 4). These numbers for Campaign 96 reflect an ongoing
trend of negative reporting. If shortening the campaign would serve to decrease these
astounding numbers, then this is an idea that should be carefully studied.
There exists some thought against shortening the campaign season however.
Lichter argues that a shorter campaign would enhance the medias influence (Lichter
and Noyes 277). For example, he thinks shortening the time frame between primaries
would magnify the momentum of the winners. Momentum is key in primary races and
the media have the power to add or detract from a candidates momentum by
declaring candidates winners or losers. When Michael Dukakis won fewer than
one-half of the states on Super Tuesday 1988, he gained momentum because he did
better than the press expected a governor from the northeast to do in the south. When
a candidate exceeds the medias expectations, he is considered a winner. And, of
course, the opposite is true. If a candidate does not do as well as expected in a
primary, even if he wins, he is considered vulnerable, lacking momentum, and/or
possibly a loser. In 1984, Gary Hart won six states on Super Tuesday, but he lost
when the press interpreted Mondales wins in Alabama and Georgia...as a
psychological victory... (Patterson, Order 188).
Lichter is correct in declaring the media powerful, especially during the
primaries when media coverage is of paramount importance for candidates,
particularly ones who are not well known by the electorate. But some of Pattersons
55


ideas to shorten the campaign address this criticism. For example, one suggestion
Patterson made was to have several states hold their primaries (or caucuses) on the
same day as Iowa and New Hampshire, diminishing those states unrepresentative
influence. He recommended having all primaries/caucuses start by late May or early
June and having the primary season completed in six or eight weeks. The contests in
Iowa and New Hampshire would fall within this time span and would no longer
receive special status. The press currently give these two states a disproportionate
amount of coverage, and much too much is made about the winners and losers in
these two contests. Bringing Iowa and New Hampshire into the fold with the rest of
the states would curtail the medias ability to play kingmaker. Additionally, having
multiple contests on the first primary day would offer a broader view of what voters
around the country may be thinking, as opposed to a more limited view of only voters
in Iowa or New Hampshire. The press will always have a great deal of influence. This
is inevitable in our method of choosing a president (as opposed to, for example, a
parliamentary form of government). The key is to abate the medias influence as much
as possible.
Where Pattersons answer to how to provide better political journalism lies in
changing aspects of the political system, journalist James Fallows sees solutions by
changing the way reporters do their jobs: Do they want merely to entertain the public
or to engage it? (267). Fallows claims that currently, with very few exceptions (The
Wall Street Journal and The Jim Lehrer News Hour for example), the media have been
56


primarily entertaining the public. This may be acceptable in some instances, but
journalists could elevate their profession, and at the same time assist voters, by getting
more involved in the political process.
To do this, Fallows believes the media should practice public or civic
journalism. This type of journalism advocates an activist media, a media involved with
its community, a media with an impact. Public journalism is a theory that reporters
should be actively biased in favor of encouraging the community to be involved in
politics (Fallows 262). Local newspapers or television outlets would organize
community meetings which enable citizens to discuss the issues they feel are most
important to their neighborhoods. The Charlotte Observer, for example, polled
constituents to fined out what specific questions they wanted answered during the
campaign season. The newspaper sent the questions to the candidates and then
printed their responses in the paper. This question and answer session worked well
and voters were very pleased with the results. Variations can be made to
accommodate the needs of different communities.
Public journalism works best on a local or state level where journalists have a
genuine tie to their communities and candidates are more likely to accommodate the
media in their own constituency. But there are innovative ways to communicate to a
national audience also. Nightline host Ted Koppel has used a townhall format to
discuss issues of national concern. Candidate Clinton, in 1992, was effective and
informative with his talk show appearances and townhall question and answer
57


sessions. The national news media (especially television because of its ubiquity) need
to become more creative in presenting different formats to their audiences in order to
first capture the attention of the audience, and then provide them with the information
needed to make informed decisions about the issues, and then the candidates.
Other Solutions
The presidential campaign season is an ideal time for citizens to evaluate which
policies are working well and which need to be improved or discarded. It is the
medias responsibility to present this information, while at the same time making it
palpable to those who either do not understand the complexity of some issues, or have
lost hope in the political system altogether.
There is an argument that television shows and magazines addressing
substantive political issues already exist and are accessible to anyone who is interested.
This argument is indeed true. However, most substantive political programs usually
found on cable or public television seem to exist for those who already closely follow
politics. For whatever reason, these programs just do not draw the sizeable audiences
that network programming draws. As long as the networks command larger audiences
for their news broadcasts, including news magazines such as 60 Minutes, 20/20 or
Dateline, they have an opportunity to reach and inform millions of viewers. Networks
need to be creative in covering issues such as health care, social security, poverty, etc.
These are not remote issues affecting only a few; they are very complex issues
affecting most of us and require serious in-depth investigation. The presidential
58


campaign season is one opportune time to do this by incorporating the candidates
viewpoints with investigate and informative journalism.
One network did try an innovative approach. In October 1996, the CBS
Evening News gave candidates Clinton and Dole free airtime to address the viewers.
Their appearances came in 2-1/2 minute uninterrupted blocks, per candidate, on four
consecutive evenings. This strategy enabled viewers to hear what the candidates said,
in the candidates own words, without the media filter. A small step, but a step
nevertheless.
There are, of course, other alternatives. Washington Post journalist David
Broder suggested that networks air a substantial chunk of a candidates speech or a
statement dealing substantively with policy and comparing his views with those of his
opponent (268). Broder also suggested that networks make available 10 or 15
minute prime-time blocks on a regular basis for the candidates with the networks
specifying the weekly topics (268). Perhaps even better would be to have the
networks donate the airtime to each candidate, thus eliminating possible financial
obstacles for a cash poor candidate. (But one step at a timecandidates have a difficult
enough time even persuading the networks to sell them airtime during lucrative prime-
time programming, except for the 30 or 60 second campaign ad.)
Patterson writes about an idea that came out of Harvard Universitys Kennedy
School of Government called the Nine Sundays proposal, with nine Sundays
between Labor Day and Election Day devoted to candidate debates, speeches and
59


conversations (Order 234). These programs would be carried by all major networks
(including cable) or rotated among cable and network television. Newspapers could
print the content verbatim. This idea would give voters a keen insight into the
candidates because of the differing forums.
Most importantly, however, is that network television, in particular, must
move forward on some of these initiatives. Because of their mass audiences and
resources, the networks possess the power to change the way presidential campaigns
are covered. If networks were more issue-oriented and less game-centered, millions of
Americans would arrive at their polling places with substantially more knowledge
about the candidates and the candidates positions on the issues.
It is clear from this study of the 1996 presidential campaign, and countless
preceding studies, that mainstream news coverage of campaigns is inadequate at best.
It is time for news sources to implement some of the knowledge they have gained from
academia and from critiques coming from within their own ranks by highly respected
journalists such as David Broder and James Fallows. The corporations behind
network television and daily newspapers will always strive to attain the highest ratings
and to outsell their competitors, respectively. Because of this fact, stories designed to
entertain will inevitably find their way into the news. It would benefit all if a little less
entertainment and a bit more substance were presented by the media, especially during
the election season. Media would benefit by regaining some of the respect they have
lost over the last quarter century; politicians would benefit because more of their
60


messages would get conveyed to the public; and finally, viewers would benefit by
gaining insight into issues that have no simple solutions and that require more than a
cursory glance.
61


JttffllDKA
_____________________________9-J.-%_______
For Clinton, Dole, Big Five
States Hold Key to Election
I.
Politics: Both must appeal to industrial heartland
issues, experts say. At stake are 99 electoral votes.
By ROBERT SH0GAN
TIMES POLITICAL WRITER
CHICAGOStart on the New
Jersey side of the Hudson River
and head westacross Pennsylva-
nia, Ohio and Michiganthen skip
across Lake Michigan to Illinois'
farUiest edge. Welcome to Main
Street of Campaign 1996the road
President Clinton and Republican
challenger Bob Dole will travel
almost obsessively through the
Nov. 5 election.
The Big Five states traversed by
this 1,000-mile-long causeway
provide 99 electoral votes, better
than one-third the 270 needed to
win the White House.-And with the
nation's two most populous states.
California and New York, seem-
ingly denied to Dole as things look
now. Republicans acknowledge
that their standard-bearer must
win at least three of the Big Five to
defeat Clinton (Democrats claim
that Dole needs four).
The good news for Clinton, com-
ing out of last weeks convention
here, is that based on recent sur-
veys, he would sweep all five if the
election were held today.
The hope for Dole rests on the
reality that the election is still nine
weeks offand that either his own
stratagems, some Clinton blunder
or some unforeseen external event
will turn the tide in his favor.
The importance of the Big Five
not only will force both candidates
Please see CAMPAIGN, A16
62


A16
MONDAY. SEPTEMBER 2. 1996 *
(CAMPAIGN:
Caallaaed from At
fo commit much of their resources
Within those borders, but also
Serves to tailor the Issue agenda to
fait the tastes of the states' 52
million citizens.
In California, Issues such as Im-
:lgratlon and affirmative action
Inay be the hot buttons. In other
bans of the country, cultural issues,
such as school prayer or gay rights,
inay dominate.
\ Out here, more bread-and-butter
concerns prevailand shape the
presidential debate.
; "These ..tales make up the great
Industrial heartland." said Demo-
cratic pollster Marie Meltmnn. "The
people who live there arc common-
sense, middle-class, solid citizens
who look at New York and Califor-
nia as cultural extremes."
^tTj'or people here, Clinton's
L character Is not a focal
point," Bald Terry Madonna, a poll-
ster In Pennsylvania. "They arc
worried about providing for their
families and crime and can they
send their kid to college.
] To be sure, the high-profile sex-
ifor-hirc allegation that forced the
resignation of Clinton's top political
strategist. Dick Morris, served as a
. Reminder of the potential cxploslvc-
' ness of the character questions that
-Still surround the president But
'even Republicans conceded that it
will take a revelation bearing more
directly on Clinton to have signifi-
cant impact on the presidential
contest in the Dig Five states or
anywhere else.
"It's not going to hurt enough,,
unfortunately," said longtime Re-
publican consultant Lyn Nofzigcrof
the Morris ease.
The candidates, of course, will
hxtend their efforts outside this one
sector of Northeast and Midwest
states. Clinton is hoping to make
Inroads.in normally Republican
Florida; Dole continues to maintain
a surprisingly strong presence in
California. Still, the Big Five states.
are expected to be the setting for
the campaign's main show.
What adds to their importance is
that in recent presidential elections,
they have voted as a bloc. In the
three elections of the 1980s. all lined
up behind COP candidates Ronald
Reagan and George Bush. In 1992,
all reversed themselves and wound
up in Clinton's corner.
In the time remaining before
election day. Dole bears the burden
of rarrying the Tight to the front-
running Clinton. And as the Re-
publicans see it, the target of choice
Industrial Heartlands Big Five States Seen
for their candidate In the Big Five
states Is the economy, with his chief
weapon his proposal for a 16%
across-the-board cut In Income tax
rates.
"This Is the weakest of live
post-World War II recoveries, and
two-thirds of workers have anxiety
about their Jobs," said Richard Wil-
liamson. a former Reagan White
House aide and campaign strategist
who lost a 1992 Senate race In
Illinois. "Bob Dole has to say,
Staying the course Isnt good
enough."
But in Michigan. Dole has to
convince people that the tax cut is
real and that it will work," said
independent pollster Ed Sarpolus.
who is based in the state. There is
a lot of skepticism that it won't
happen, and also people worry that
it will add to the deficit."
Still another difficulty for Dole
and the GOP In this swath of key
states is the partys emphasis on a
traditional "family values" ap-
proach to social issues. That ap-
proach helped attract conservative
Christians in the 1980s. but it may
have boomcrangcd in the '90s. cre-
ating a perception of narrowness
and Intolerance.
To win Illinois, said Williamson,
Dole first has to say; "I am not a
captive of the intolerant religious
right. I am not [Christian Coalition
Executive Director) Ralph Reed. I
am not Pal Buchanan.' The swing
vote In Illinois doesnt want to vote
for that perceived Intolerance.
Clinton faces his own challenges
in the Big Five. The president has
to respond to economic Insecurity
that people In these states feel In
ways that demonstrate he shares
their values. Mcllman said.
More than likely, Clinton will
reprise the themes of his
convention acceptance speech-
tick off the accomplishments of his
first term, outline his agenda for the
rest of the century and remind
voters of his efforts to defend the
safety net of government programs
against the alleged depredations of
the Republican Congress.
In Pennsylvania, for Instance,
"the 104th Congress was the dif-
ference between the public attitude
in 1995 and now," Madonna said.
"Pennsylvanians looked at what
the Republicans were trying to do
and just decided. This Is not what
we want.
Here is a look at the campaign's
current landscape in each of the E
Five states:
Illinois (22 electoral votes);
Clinton starts out with a potent base
In Chicago, kept solid by Demo-
cratic Mayor Richard M. Daley.
And the president, who won the
state In a walk In 1992. does well in
conservative southern Illinois.
"Carbondale Is closer to Utile
Rock than It Is to Chicago, said
Clinton's 1992 national campaign
manager. David Wilhelm.
Dole's top supporter In the stntc
Is Republican Gov. Jim Edgar. But
In the eyes of one state GOP leader.
Edgar "has tremendous popularity
but no clout." Dole Is presumed to
have narrowed the nearly 20% lead
Clinton enjoyed In the most recent
polls, but even Republican Wil-
liamson conceded that Clinton has
to be favored In the slate.
Michigan (Ifl electoral votes):
Dole trailed by about 10 points
statewide in n poll conducted by
Sarpolus Just after the GOP con-
vention in San Diego. A particularly
troublesome aspect of the survey
for Dole Is that In the Detroit
suburb of Macomb County, which
Bush carried in 1992 even as he lest
the stale. Dole trailed Clinton by a
hefty margin.
For Dole to win the stale, Sarpo-
lus said, he must start generating
enthusiasm among Macomb's blue-
collar ethnic voters for his tax-cut
proposal.
New Jersey (15 electoral
votes): This state's suburban voters
gave Reagan and Bush healthy
majorities all through the 1980s.
Clinton's narrow win here in 1992
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(his smallest margin among the Bi
Five) offered proof. Democrat
contend, that the urban problem
that caused the middle class to fir
the cities had ultimately found nc>
roots In the suburhs.
Doles best hope may be that tfc
resentment of taxes stirred up I
Increases under former Democrat
Gov. James J. Florio remains stror
enough to ratty support behind tl
GOP tax-cut proposal. But Rulgr
Unlverslly political scientist Ch
Zukln warned: The same peop
who are gripped by economic ui
certainty arc the people who won
that when Dole talks about sri
reliance, he means We are u
going to help you."
Ohio (21 electoral votes): Fi<
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63


LOS ANGbLKS TlMfcS
tlands Big Five States Seen Key to Taking White House
Illinois (22 electoral votes):
inton starts out with a potent base
Chicago, kept solid by Demo-
alie Mayor Richard M. Daley,
id the president, who won the
itc in a walk In 1992, does well in
nservativc southern Illinois.
"Carbondalc Is closer to Little
xk than it Is to Chicago. said
Inton's 1992 national campaign
anager. David Wilhelm.
Dole's lop supporter in the state
Republican Cov. Jim Edgar. Rut
the eyes of one stale COP leader.
Jgar "has tremendous popularity
it no clout. Dole is presumed to
avc narrowed the nearly 20% lead
llnton enjoyed in the most recent
ills, but even Republican WII-
amson conceded that Clinton has
i be favored In the state.
Michigan (18 electoral votes):
ole trailed by about 10 points
.alcwidc in a poll conducted by
arpolus Just after the COP con-
ention in San Diego. A particularly
-oublcsome aspect of the survey
or Dole is that In the Detroit
uburb of Macomb County, which
lush carried in 1902 even as he lost
he stale. Dole trailed Clinton by a
icfty margin.
For Dole to win (he state, Sarpo-
us said, he must start generating
mthusiasm among Macombs blue-
:ollar ethnic voters for his tax-cut
iroposal.
New Jersey (15 electoral
votes): This state's suburban voters
gave Reagan and Dush healthy
majorities all through the 1980s.
Clinton's narrow win here In 1992
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(his smallest margin among the Big
Five) offered proof. Democrats
contend, that the urban problems
that caused the middle class to flee
the cities had ultimately found new
roots In the suburbs.
Dole's best hope may be that the
resentment of taxes stirred up by
Increases under former Democratic
Gov. James J. Florio remains strong
enough to rally support behind the
COP tax-cut proposal. Dul Rutgers
University political scientist Cliff
Zukln warned: The same people
who arc gripped by economic un-
certainty arc the people who worry
that when Dole talks about self-
reliance. he means We arc not
going to help you."
Ohio (21 electoral votes): Four
years ago, traditionally conserva-
tive southern Ohio voters embraced
Clinton's message combining prom-
ises of economic revival with assur-
ances that he favored individuals
taking responsibility for their own
lives.
The president's major task is to
hold their support. One potential
problem spot, said University of
Akron: political scientist John
Crccn. Is "a lot of unhappiness
among core Democrats1' in the
Cleveland, Akron and Toledo areas
about Clinton pushing through the
North American Free Trade
Agreement and signing the welfare
reform bill. These Democrats might
vent their anger by not voting.
Dole needs to win over suburban
Ohio swing voters. "These people
arc concerned about the tax burden.
so Dole's economic meaage has
appeal," Green said.
Pennsylvania (23 electoral
votes): Doles problems here arc
pointed up by his weaknesses in
two key areas. In the Philadelphia
suburbs, normally a Republican
stronghold, he barely edged Clinton
In a recent poll.
And among Roman Catholic
voters, who make up about one-
third of the stale's electorate, Dole
trailed Clinton by 18% in the sur-
vey.
Madonna said: "Pennsylvanians
have trouble conceptualizing about
campaign promises. But they do
know about performance, and from
observing Clinton's performance,
they arc reasonably happy.
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64


APEQDIXB
TELES TIMES_ WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER IE \9H
National Perspective

CAMPAIGN ISSUES
linton Not to Blame for Rise in Teen Drug Use, Experts Say
Olltlcs: They agree he
Id have been more forceful
opposition. Most believe
lerational forgetting* is the
:f culprit for trend.
>A VID G. SAVACE
tmr vsitia
ASJIINGTONGovernment studies
* round that the useof illegal drugs,
eally marijuana, hai risen sharply In
ust three yean, an toue Republican
kdential andidate Bob Dale has ham* *
ed at on the campaign trail
ji don BUI Clinton deserve the
ve for increasing drug use among
events!
cot experts on drug abuse say he doe*
although they agree that Clinton has
-d to speak ouiagainsi drug abuse
the same fervor he has directed
nst cigarettes.
think it's a cheap shot and almost lu-
MB to aay kids are using drugs be
leof what the president did or didn't
" said Erie Sterling, prerident of
linaJ Justice Policy Foundation,
erybody ough t to be concerned about
steep and midden rise |in drug use|.
it doesn't make any more sense to
ne this president than to blame Rich*
Nixon or Gerald Ford (or the high
I of drug ahioe in theeariy CTOs'
dded Mark Kleinian, a UCLA profes-
. aor of pubUe poltcyi 'If I knew why
picked up one (ad this year and
-ipedii the neat. I wouldnt have to
it a living leaching. I don't think it's a
lerolpresidentialleadership. Kit .
e. then lobaceo tee by kids should be
down, because Clinton has beeo
.rand bold on that subject'
lost experts who track drug abuse
it to 'generational forgetting" u the
l explanation for the recent trend,
n 1779, slightly more than 16% of
e who were ages 12 to IT reported
y had used an illegal drug in the pro-
us month, when Interviewed aa pan of
annual National Household Survey
the Department of Health and Human
vices, lly 1992. the percentage had
onto a low of 5J%.
. jjl year, the number had jumped to
*J%. a doubling In three years, as Dole
watedly has noted.
The standard explanation for this to
Drug Use Over the Years
The peak year of use of any illiet drug was 1979, according lo federal
figures. Since then, reported drug usage has shown a general pattern
of decline among Americans of various ages and ethnic groups Dul
drug usage among 12- to 17-year-olds has recently begun to show an
increase. >
AGE CROUP 1979 1985 1990 199S
12.17 iej% ia.2% 7.1% 10.9%
1625 38.0% 25.3% 15.0% 14.7%
26-34 20.SK 23.1% 10.9% 0.3%
Over 35 2.0k 3.9% 3.1% 2.8%
RACE/ETHNICITY
White 14.2% 12.3% 6.9% 6.0%
Slack 13.3% 12.7% 7.3% 7.9%
Latino 12.9% 0.9% 5.6% 5.1%
Other 15.1% 10.7% 314% 4.0%
Was*. Iks Von
that it's been a long time sinee kids nw
the really hod side of drug abuse among
ihnr friends and people they come into
contact with. They dont know how dan-
gerous It can be,' said Peter Reuter, a
University of Maryland professor.
Still he and othm admit to being baf-
fled by the cyclic nature of drug use.
The truth is. we don't have a good basis
for saying why this Is happening. Mari-
juana use started falling In 1979. before
anyone in Wahington got interested in
ihe problem, and It started going back up
in 1902." he said.
In speeches and television ads, how-
ever. Uule has not only voiced alarm at
ihe rue in teen drug use but has also
squarely put the blame on the Clinton
administration.
Thanks to the liberal wink-arid-nod
policies of this administration, drug ux
among teenager* has not just aianed up
but a roekcimg skyward.' he told an
audteneein Philadelphia on Monday.
'Why! The fact is that the country is
reaping the btuer harvest of what this
administration's liberal policies have
sowed.'
During his fast year In office. Clinton
sharply cut the stafflngai the office that
sets federal drug policy. Dole pointed out.
Clinton ruiPwnwnUy restored the office to
IllMIIW I^Arwh-eT-iH--
its previous suiting level and appointed .
-mired Army Ccn. Qiny R. McCaffrey u
its director earlier this year.
The president. Dole charged, "has
turned Just Say No* (the anti-drug slo-
gan during the Reagan administration!
into 'just say nothing.''
In ads that began running this week.
Ihe Dole campaign targets Clinton even
more on the drug Issue.
"Under Oinirm. cocaine and herein toe
among teenagers has doubled. Why! Dc-
cause Dill Cltnum b&tpratcciingourchll-
dren from dni^'the announcer Wonca.
If elected. Dole has said, he would use
the mUtlary in the fight to stop the flow of
nareotia into the United Stale and ag-
gravely pmeute all drug erimei
"When I'm president, I dont Intend to
wink at drugs. I intend to wipe them out'
Dole Did.
Dole's ads and speeches avoid pointing
out that federal spending for the drug
war has risen steadily during the Clinton
years, from 612-2 billion In the 1993 fed-
eral fiscal year toapreposcdSlS.1 billion
for the coming fiscal year, which begins
Oct I.
In addition, while the Republican chal-
lenger has correctly highlighted the re-
cent trend to teenage drug use. his use of
percentages may exaggerate the prob-
lem. me expats Bid.
They re ulking about eoaine toe
doubling.'butttdoan't rounds otreme
ifyousy thatQkn 1,000are using 0. up
from 3 pre 1.000.' Did John P. Morgan.*
pharmasiogtoi and drug opertat the Oty
Urdvatiiy of New York Medical SehooL
The Clinton ampalgn. In Its own ads
firing hick at Oole, potato to the bet that
aa a aena lor. Dole voted against the crea-
tion of a 'drug erxr." who heads the tame
White House-based office he now blames
Clinton for underfunding. The ad also
note* that Republicans in Congress voted
to cut federal funds far anti-drug educa-
tion programs In schools.
While many drug experts doubt Clin-
ton's low-key approach to drugs explains
(he recent trend among teenagers, most
also My the president should have spo-
ken out more against drug abuse.
"CHntan eould (ore addressed this tour
mere forcefully.' aid Peter H. Smith, a
polilial science profaor at UCSan Diego.
"Not to be alarmist or lo portray drug
users as evil people But drug consumption
to dangerous. It to costly to Amerian soci-
ety. He should have aid the sme things
heays about dgamte smoking. But my
sense to they would just like thutosue to go
away.'
Tohn Walters, the last drug car under
J President Bush, said Clinton should
havedlrecUy confronted the baby boom
generation's eiperlence with drugs.
'He should have said. 'Yes. my genera-
tion experimented with drugs, and it vu
a mistake and heres why.' But he has
failed to artieulatea serious menage. It's
a lack of moral leadership.' aid Wallen.
Others aid not just politicians but also
parents and educators have failed to ex-
plain to adolescents why they should stay
away from marijuana.
'Kids who are 14 or IS react against
the 'Just Say No* message because it is
too simple,' said Sterling. 'Once they see
that Jimmy has smoked marijuana and he
seems to do OK In das or on the football
field, they get the message that It to no
problem. But UkealcohoL heavy use (of
manruanal destroys your bnin and rums
your lungs.'
The dire warnings to young people
about the hatairdsof nareouesaametimes
backfire. Reuter aid. because marquana
to included.
Therearea large mimberof very
dangerous drop out there, but if you ask
how daagreousts marijuana if usnlarea-
tonally, the answer is. 'Not very,' he
I don't think It'* a matter
of presidential leadenhip.
If It were, then tobacco
use by kids should be way
ucu nansses uu KiEnuN
President Clinton has
turned lust Say No Into
Just aay nothing."'
GOPNOMNEEBOBDOl£
aid 'll probably undermines Ihe credi-
bility of our prevention programs'to
lump manjiaiB together with drugs suei
as cocaine and herout. he said
VdmnanhaUnts tn Ihe war on drug'
aid they fear the oaixm may he in the
aperofigitageafanothtf cycle of boos-
ing drug abuse, pvUeulari/If Clinton doe.-
not do more to highlight the tax.
*1 predict tae and abuse wi 11 continue
to rise markedly again until kids see the
carnal tin.'sald Herbert Klefaer. vice
president and research director at the
National Center on Addictions and Sub-
stance Abise In New York. "Only then
will the numbers start to go down again.
Bui It would he nice if we didn't have to
go through thbeyde again to relearn lh
65


WORKS CITED
Broder, David S. Behind the Front Page. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.
Budd, Richard W., Robert K. Thorp, and Lewis Donohew. Content Analysis of
Communications. New York: The MacMillan Co., 1967.
Cappella, Joseph N. And Kathleen Hall Jamieson. Spiral of Cynicism: The Press and
the Public Good. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. CBS. KCNC, Denver. 18 Sept. 96.
Drew, Dan and David Weaver. Voter Learning in the 1988 Presidential Election: Did
the Debates and the Media Matter? Journalism Quarterly 68 (Spring/Summer
1991): 27-37.
Fallows, James. Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine Democracy. New
York: Pantheon Books, 1996.
Feeney, Susan. Dole Steps Up Attack Pace. The Denver Post 9 Oct. 1996: 1A.
(Originally published by Dallas Morning News)
Graber, Doris A. Processing the News: How People Tame the Information Tide.
New York: Longman, Inc., 1988.
Jamieson, Kathleen Hall. Dirty Politics: Deception. Distraction and Democracy.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Jamieson, Kathleen Hall and Karlyn Kohrs Campbell. The Interplay of Influence:
News. Advertising. Politics, and the Mass Media. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Publishing Co., 1992.
Krippendor£ Klaus. Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology. Beverly
Hills: Sage Publications Inc., 1980.
Lichter, S. Robert and Linda S. Lichter, eds. Media Monitor. Washington: Center for
Media and Public Affairs, Mar.-Apr. 1996.
66


. Media Monitor. Washington: Center for Media and Public Affairs, Nov.-Dec.
1996.
Lichter, S. Robert and Richard E. Noyes. Good Intentions Make Bad News: Why
Americans Hate Campaign Journalism. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield
Publishers, 1996.
McCubbins, Mathew D. Party Decline and Presidential Campaigns in the Television
Age. Under the Watchful Eve: Managing Presidential Campaigns in the
Television Era. Ed. Mathew D. McCubbins. Washington: Congressional
Quarterly Press, 1992: 9-57.
McWilliams, Wilson Carey. The Politics of Disappointment: American Elections
1976-94. Chatham: Chatham House Publishers, 1995.
Nagoumey, Adam. Give-and-Take Forums a New Tack for Dole. The Denver Post
11 Oct. 1996: 5A. (Originally published by New York Times)
Patterson, Thomas E. The Mass Media Election: How Americans Choose Their
President. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1980.
. Out of Order. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993.
Polsby, Nelson W. And Aaron Wildavsky. Presidential Elections: Strategies and
Structures of American Politics. Chatham: Chatham House Publishers, 1996.
Sabato, Larry J. Open Season: How the News Media Cover Presidential Campaigns
in the Age of Attack Journalism. Under the Watchful Eye: Managing
Presidential Campaigns in the Television Era. Ed. Mathew D. McCubbins.
Washington: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1992: 127-151.
Shogren, Elizabeth and Jonathan Peterson. Dole Again Touts Plan to Cut Income
Tax Rates 15%. Los Angeles Times 25 Sept. 1996: A4.
Stempel, Guido H. HI and John W. Windhauser. The Media in the 1984 and 1988
Presidential Elections. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1991.
67


Full Text

PAGE 1

A STUDY OF MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE 1996 PRESIDENTW. CAMPAIGN by Suzanne Keller B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1995 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Political Science 1998

PAGE 2

This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Suzanne Keller has been approved by

PAGE 3

Keller, Suzanne (M.A., Political Science) A Study of Media Coverage of the 1996 Presidential Campaign Thesis directed by Associate Professor Tony Robinson ABSTRACT This thesis investigates the mainstream news media's coverage of the 1996 presidential campaign between Labor Day and Election Day. Specifically, the study looks at the amount of game-centered news (stories dealing with candidate strategy and winning and losing) versus the amount of substantive news (issues and candidate positions) featured by the three main network evening news programs and three daily newspapers: The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and The Denver Post. The literature review section examines the media's coverage of past presidential campaigns. It was found that the gamesmanship of a campaign was reported much more frequently than substantive stories. This was true of newspapers and network television. Further, it was also found that the over-reporting of the gamesmanship of a campaign affected the electorate in three ways: it contributed to a lack of knowledge about the issues, and there was an affect on both voter behavior (voting less) and voter attitude (voters became cynical of politics). To test the current relevance of these findings concerning the coverage of previous elections, a content analysis was performed of random network news programs and of selected newspaper coverage. It was discovered that the number of stories dealing with campaign gamesmanship, and specifically candidate strategy, vastly outnumbered those stories dealing with substantive issues. This was true of all networks and all newspapers examined in this study. This was also true of the coverage received by both candidates, although Senator Dole had a much higher percentage of stories about his campaign strategy that did President Clinton. 111

PAGE 4

Finally, solutions addressing the problems now pervasive in campaign journalism were discussed, such as shortening the campaign or adopting new methods of reporting presidential campaigns. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed IV

PAGE 5

CONTENTS CHAPTER 1. IN"TRODUCTION .................................................................................... 1 Scope of Study ................................................................................... 3 Literature Review ................................................................... 3 Methodology .......................................................................... 5 Findings ... ............................................................................. 5 Analysis and Conclusion ......................................................... 5 2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE .......................................................... 7 Campaign News Coverage and Issue Awareness ................................ 8 Campaign News Coverage and Voter Attitude ................................. 15 Campaign News Coverage and Voter Behavior.. .............................. 17 The Decline of Campaign News ....................................................... 19 Economic Theories ofDeclining News Coverage ................. 20 Political Theories of Declining News Coverage .................... 23 Who's Agenda--The Media's or the Politician's? ............................. 25 3. METHODOLOGY ................................................................................ 31 Content Analysis ............................................................................. 32 Collection of Data ............................................................... 33 v

PAGE 6

Reliability ....................................................................... 3 5 Stability .... ...................................................................... 36 Reproducibility ...................... : ........................................ 36 Accuracy ........ ................................................................ 36 4. FINDIN"GS .............................................................................. ......... 38 5. ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION ................................................... 48 Solutions .................................................................................... 52 Other Solutions .......................................................................... 58 APPENDIX A. Sample Article of Game Coverage ................................................... 62 . B. Sample Article of Substantive Coverage.......................................... 65 WORKS CITED .............................................................................................. 66 VI

PAGE 7

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION While addressing a question during a presidential campaign debate in 1976, Gerald Ford made a misstatement that derailed his campaign: there is "no Soviet dominance of Eastern Europe," he said. Upon further examination, however, Ford's unfortunate choice of words was not the reason his campaign began to unravel. Rather, it was the media's persistent and unrelenting focus on Ford's mistake and the excessive news coverage which accompanied that intense focus. After the debate, polls showed that people having a favorable impression of Ford outnumbered those favoring Carter by a margin of 44 to 3 3 percent (Patterson, Order 57). Within 24 hours, after repeated airing afFord's mistake, opinion swung 50 percentage points, with voters now saying Carter had won the debate, 63 to 17 percent (Patterson, Order 57). The press then continued showcasing Ford's error for almost an entire week, causing great harm to his credibility. In the Iowa caucus in 1984, favored candidate Walter Mondale won the caucus with 49 percent of the vote (Lichter and Noyes 10). But the media story that came out of Iowa wa5 that a virtually unknown candidate, Gary Hart, came in second to Mondale, as opposed to Senator John Glenn, the candidate expected to come in second place. For the next week, press coverage of Hart exceeded his rivals, and, coming from behind, he beat Mondale 37 to 28 percent in the New Hampshire primary 1

PAGE 8

(Lichter and Noyes 10). Hart was the beneficiary of momentum that was furnished by the press. As New York Times columnist Tom Wicker so aptly summed up Hart's string of primary victories: Hart's celebrity was based on "the publicity that the press gave to the 'upset' of its own erroneous expectations" (emphasis added) (Lichter and Noyes 11). Hart fooled the so-called experts and because ofthis, he became the focus of media attention and the new frontrunner in the Democratic race. In January of 1995, President Clinton delivered to Congress and the nation the annual State of the Union address. Upon completion of the speech, television commentators mocked and criticized its content and length. Newspapers followed this trend the following day. For example, one commentary in The Washington Post compared the length of the speech with the President's lack of self-discipline, using an analogy of"Clinton at a buffet table, eating everything in sight" (Fallows 41). The American public, however, had a different opinion. Viewers (eight out of ten) liked the speech and 74 percent thought the content was useful (Fallows 42). Nielsen ratings also found that the public did not object to the length of the speech. In fact, the longer Clinton spoke, the higher his ratings (Fallows 42). These anecdotes illustrate two main points that form the basis of this thesis. First, the media have enormous influence on the electorate during a campaign, and second, the American public desires information about public policy and are not receiving it from the mainstream news media. Voters say they want better, more substantive campaign coverage, but every four years the quality of campaign coverage 2

PAGE 9

is criticized by not only the public, but also by researchers who study the media. One of the consistent criticisms is that during a typical presidential campaign, the media tend to concentrate their news coverage on mostly irrelevant topics such as who is ahead at any given moment (horse race coverage) and what strategy a candidate is employing, or needs to employ, to get ahead or stay ahead (game coverage). Voters would be better served, the critics contend, if the media would concentrate more on informing the public about the candidates' positions on issues and other substantive stories. When voters encounter game-centered stories, they behave more like spectators than participants in the election ... On the other hand, stories about the issues and the candidates' qualifications bring out the politics in voters, eliciting evaluations of the candidates' leadership and personal traits and of their records and policy positions ... (Patterson, Order 89). It was with this criticism of the mainstream news media in mind that I decided to examine the last presidential campaign and determine if the criticism was applicable in 1996. Scope of Study This thesis is divided into three primary sections: a review of the literature, a content analysis of media coverage of select television and newspaper stories of the 1996 campaign, and finally, an analysis and conclusion about those findings. Literature Review In this chapter, I examine the body of research pertaining to the mainstream media's coverage of some of the presidential campaigns after 1976. My focus is on 3

PAGE 10

the amount of game coverage versus substantive coverage. The literature will conclude that network television, as well as most daily newspapers, concentrate heavily on the gamesmanship of presidential campaigns as opposed to covering substantive issues. These conclusions are then used in a comparison with my own data on the 1996 campaign. On a broader level, the literature review illustrates the different reasons why researchers and many journalists alike feel it is important to examine the press coverage of presidential campaigns. While most who observe and study campaign news coverage feel the quality of coverage is lacking, their reasons for believing why this is so vary significantly. For example, some believe that unsatisfactory campaign coverage results in an electorate that is uninformed about the important issues facing our nation today and therefore, is ill-equipped to make the important decisions necessary in a democracy. Others argue that inferior campaign coverage with heavy concentrations on the gamesmanship of a race repels voters, thereby affecting their behavior as evidenced in a lack of participation in the political process. Yet another view is that when the press virtually ignore policy issues and concentrate on the strategic aspects of a campaign, the attitudes of voters are affected, resulting in an electorate questioning the relevance of their own vote. In addition to looking at why the quality of news coverage of a presidential campaign is important, the literature review both demonstrates and examines the suspected causes of the decline in the news quality. Who is responsible for so much 4

PAGE 11

game reporting--the media or the politicians? Why is this type of campaign reporting prevalent and does this prevalence matter? Discovering the answers to these questions may be beneficial in improving future election coverage. Methodology In this chapter, I discuss two points. First, I explain the collection of the data --what is included for analysis in this study and why. Second, I explain the particular way content analysis was applied here. Content analysis is the analytical technique used in this study to determine the categorization of a story, i.e., game or substance. There are different methods of content analysis and some are more useful than others, depending on the application. Findings The fourth chapter is a complilation of raw data gathered on the media's coverage of Campaign '96. The data is broken down by individual networks, newspapers and candidates. Analysis and Conclusion In the last chapter, I use the data analysis from the previous chapter to demonstrate that the content of the news coverage for Campaign '96lacked substance, and in fact, leaned heavily toward stories dealing with campaign strategy. I also discuss some of the possible reasons why campaign strategy was a prevailing topic in the media. Finally, I discuss some ways to improve campaign reporting in future elections. The data supports the argument that more mainstream news organizations 5

PAGE 12

must reach out and provide their viewers and readers with better campaign coverage. The important issues should find the audience as opposed to the audience trying to find the issues. There are already enough Americans alienated by the political process for one reason or another. Network television and daily newspapers must try to hold on to their dwindling audience by providing a meaningful service. Campaign coverage that includes mostly stories concerning strategy and the horse race not only deprives voters of needed information, but is also detrimental to the political process. 6

PAGE 13

CHAPTER2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE When the news media focus their attention on the gamesmanship of a presidential campaign at the expense of other, more substantive issues, the consequences are divex:se but never positive in terms of how this focus affects the voting public. The criticisms apparent in the literature regarding this type of political reporting can be summarized as follows: There is an inverse relationship between an abundance of game coverage during a campaign and voter knowledge about political issues. There is a correlation between an abundance of game coverage and the attitudes of voters regarding politicians and the political process itself There is a correlation between an abundance of game coverage and the behavior of voters (i.e., participation in the political process). These three assertions are discussed in this literature review. In order to begin to discuss them in any detail, however, a brief definition of the terms "game" and "substantive" news coverage is necessary. In 1976, political scientist Thomas Patterson was one of the first scholars to analyze a presidential campaign using a content analysis of television stories and newspaper articles, as outlined in his book The Mass Media Election: How Americans Choose Their President. One of several components that was examined by Patterson 7

PAGE 14

was the amount of game coverage versus substantive coverage by the mainstream news media during the campaign of 1976. Patterson considered game-centered news as that dealing with candidate competition, including stories about winning and losing (now commonly referred to as "horse race" coverage), strategy and logistics (how to get ahead or stay ahead), and campaign appearances and campaign hoopla (Media 24). Expanding on his definition years later, he added that game coverage also includes "the conflict that journalists prize in news--what Jules Witcover has called the 'I said he said-I said' type of story'' (Order 63). Conversely, substantive news coverage deals with the candidates' "policy positions, their personal and leadership characteristics, their private and public histories, background information on the election's issues, or group commitments for and by the candidates" (Patterson, Media 25). With these definitions in mind, a clearer analysis of political journalism is possible. Campaign News Coverage and Issue Awareness In 1976, Patterson concluded that the "nature of election news acts to diminish the public's concern with the candidates' programs and leadership" (Media 176). During the 1940's, he argued, substantive information about programs and leadership qualities dominated election news. In a relatively short time span, the content of campaign news had changed radically from substance-centered content to game centered content. 8

PAGE 15

In 1976, television was especially inadequate in terms of providing meaningful campaign coverage, with more than 50 percent of the coverage game-centered (Patterson, Media 29). Television also failed to educate voters on the current issues. In Patterson's study, respondents were interviewed intermittently over a period of eight months on their perception of the candidates' positions regarding public works jobs, defense spending, welfare spending and taxes. "For more than 90 percent of the issue positions studied, no significant relationship was found between heavier [television] viewing and increased issue awareness ... (Media 156). This result was not only true of people unfamiliar with politics and the candidates, but also with those respondents that were classified as "highly interested voters," people who followed politics and were regular consumers of television and newspaper stories. Across the board, regular television news viewers in this study were no more knowledgeable about a candidate's stand on the issues in October 1976 than they were the previous February. In opposition to these findings, respondents who were heavy newspaper readers showed an increased awareness of the issues (Patterson, Media 157). There was also a positive correlation between voter knowledge and light readers of newspapers. The increased knowledge exhibited by study participants was not due to the fact that the main focus of newspaper stories was issues, because it was not. The horse race was still the main focus. .With almost 50 percent of coverage devoted to the game, Patterson concluded that the greater space available in newspapers, 9

PAGE 16

compared to the available time in television news, allowed newspapers a much more in-depth examination of an issue (Media 157). He found that newspapers "communicated each of the candidate's issue positions in from three to 15 times as many words as the television did" (Media 157). It is not surprising, then, that even occasional news readers were able to obtain more substantive information than television viewers. Additionally, television typically mentioned a candidate's viewpoint two or three times a month, in segments of 20 seconds or less, and many were indeed less than 20 seconds (Patterson, Media 159). "People usually acquire and retain detailed political information through repeated exposure," Patterson argued, and therefore, the short and infrequent television blips were not conducive to actual learning (Media 159). While newspapers enhanced the knowledge of participants in Patterson's study more than television, neither medium could be credited for exemplary reporting in 1976. Towards the end of the campaign Patterson found that more respondents did not know where candidates Ford or Carter stood on an issue as could answer correctly (Media 156). There were two notable exceptions, however, regarding the benefits derived from viewing television during the 1976 campaign. Coverage ofboth the presidential debate and the party conventions clearly provided voters with meaningful information about the candidates and the issues, particularly low to moderate interest voters who did not possess much in the way of previous knowledge.about politics (Patterson, 10

PAGE 17

Media 164). Patterson discovered that issue awareness rose 63 percent in some cases because of viewing the presidential debates (Media 164). It must be noted, however, that the benefits gained from watching television resulted from viewing special network broadcasts and not the evening news. Although the studies conducted by Stempel and Windhauser of the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns did not test anyone for issue awareness as Patterson did, they did perform an in-depth content analysis, from Labor Day through Election Day, of 17 newspapers considered by a poll of editors to be the best in the country for news coverage. They also included a content analysis of network evening news programs. Their investigation found that 2/3 of newspaper and television stories dealt with items other than the issues (Stempel and Windhauser 202). In examining newspaper coverage, the authors concluded that the stories falling in their category of "politics and government" (stories about what the candidates were doing in their campaigns) dominated in 1984 in all but one newspaper, and in 1988, in all but three newspapers (Stempel and Windhauser 23). The issues identified as most important to the country during those two campaigns (the economy, health, education and science) were virtually ignored by the newspapers. Network news coverage was also lacking in substance, the study found, with no dramatic difference between the two mediums. Both television and newspapers reported on "the most accessible material available," which was, of course, the campaigns and strategy of the candidates (Stempel and Windhauser 203). (For a 11

PAGE 18

comparison, Patterson found the strategic game bad accounted for a fu113/4 of the 1988 campaign news coverage (Order 165).) It stands to reason that very little information on the issues was learned by the electorate by way of the network evening news programs or mainstream newspapers in 1984 or 1988. Campaign '88 was noted for more than the substandard campaign coverage by the news media. Most importantly, Campaign '88 was responsible for a plethora of books criticizing presidential campaigns in general and the mainstream news media's reporting of the 1988 campaign in particular. "The election of 1988 sent an urgent signal that something is wrong with the political soul of American democracy" (McWilliams 103). McWilliams argued that the incivilities and innuendo generated by the candidates and their staffs were given "greater force" by the electronic media (104). In particular, he cites the visual affect of ads, such as the Bush campaign's use ofWtllie Horton's mug shot and the same campaign's ad of garbage floating in Boston Harbor, both highly misleading representations of the facts regarding each issue, and both prominently featured on network news coverage. The biggest problem with television coverage in 1988, argues McWilliams, was the omissions by the media: "Even at its best, however, television reporting (and increasingly all reporting) shies awayfrom evaluating the substance, or even the accuracy, of what is said in campaigns, preferring to discuss the strategy and process of campaigning" (I 08). Campaign '88 epitomized McWilliams' criticism, with a passive media allowing flagrant campaign statements to go unchallenged. 12

PAGE 19

As in previous campaigns, however, televised coverage of presidential debates was an exception to this criticism. In their study of issue knowledge by the electorate during Campaign '88, Drew and Weaver found that the "debates proved more influential on knowledge than did exposure to other types of news ... (27). Many voters did indeed learn about the issues by watching the debates. The harsh critiques of 1988 by scholars as well as by members of the news media resulted in symposiums and other discussions attended by many ofthe media elite. Their purpose was to discern not only what went wrong in 1988, but more important, to establish methods of campaign reporting that would enhance voters' knowledge of the issues for upcoming Campaign '92. The decision was made by the journalists to push an agenda reflecting substantive stories and to not allow politicians and their staffs the power to dominate the campaign with photo opportunities and sound bites. Whereas Campaign '88 was notorious for the worst in campaign journalism, the news media were determined to make the news coverage of Campaign '92 among the best. Unfortunately, with all their good intentions, the media's reporting of Campaign '92 was only slightly better than 1988. Lichter and Noyes found in their extensive investigation of the 1992 campaign that, while there were more references to the issues from a quantitative standpoint, meaningful information coming out of these stories was usually non-existent. When an issue, for example the economy, was mentioned, most stories did not link the issue with any of the candidates' past records 13

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or current proposals on the economy. ... most media references (television and newspaper alike) to the candidates' programs resembled bumper sticker slogans--brief, superficial, and without context. We coded 6280 references during the general election ... Most ... were throw-away lines in discussions of campaign strategy or tactics" (Lichter and Noyes 95). The authors found that only 9 percent of issue references were presented by the media in a detailed or meaningful way (95), meaning that most references to the issues were about as useful to the voter as horse race news. It is evident from reviewing the presidential campaigns of the last twenty years that an understanding of the issues will not be gained from watching evening network news programs. In 1968, "the average 'sound bite' --a. block of uninterrupted speech by a candidate on television news--was 42 seconds" (Patterson, Order 74). By 1992, the average sound bite was reduced to 8.4 seconds (Lichter and Noyes 289). (Both figures represent network evening news programs.) Newspapers were also guilty of the same decline. Patterson reported that in 1960, the average quote by a candidate in The New York Times was 14lines; the average in 1992 was 6lines (Order 75). When a newspaper does quote a candidate, Patterson argued, the quote is "usually buried in a narrative devoted primarily to expounding the journalist's view'' (Order 75). (Journalists' views, even if insightful, should be reserved for the opinion/editorial pages or clearly labeled "Analysis" alongside the story they are referring to.) It is no wonder, then, that many people do not learn the necessary information needed to intelligently participate in the political process of a presidential campaign. 14

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Campaign News Coverage and Voter Attitude Besides the fact that the voting public's issue awareness is, at best, minimally enhanced by the mainstream news media, another primary assertion by scholars and some journalists is that the game-centered news dominating campaigns today negatively. influences the mood of the electorate. It is believed that a disproportionate emphasis on non-issues during a campaign contributes to public cynicism about politics, as well as the political process itself The scholar who has Written most extensively on the subject of the correlation between the media and public cynicism is Kathleen Hall Jamieson. She and colleague Joseph Cappella have outlined what they refer to as three "spirals of cynicism" contained in campaign news coverage (237). The first spiral simply refers to the press and the politicians each blaming the other for the type of news coverage today. The press justify their horse race/strategy/conflict .. driven stories by accusing the politicians of not bringing any substance into a campaign. The politicians argue that these non substantive stories will be reported regardless of what they say or do on the campaign trail and that there is an abundance of substantive material to report. The cynicism of one group feeds the other, the authors maintain, and the result is a snowball effect of mistrust and bad feelings between the media and the campaigns. The second spiral is a result of the first: the cynicism exhibited by the press and politicians feeds the cynicism of the public. "Witnessing the tactical focus of the press and the conflictive, hyperbolic, dismissive rhetoric of its leaders, the public's own 15

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cynicism about the press and the process is confirmed. Polls reflect these attitudes" (Cappella and Jamieson 237). Finally, the third spiral discusses the belief by journalists and politicians that they are each giving the voters what the voters want (Cappella and Jamieson 239). Often, journalists assume people are as enamored with the horse race and strategy of a campaign as they are. And some politicians may believe people want short, easy to grasp slogans without having to get bogged down in too many details. Both of these assumptions contribute to a lack of substance in the news. It is the second spiral, however, which contains the most direct relevance to my argument--thatthe nature of the news coverage during a campaign affects the perception of voters regarding the candidates and the electoral process. In 1995, the Times Mirror Center of the People and the Press released a study which showed that "four-fifths of the public believed that politicians' morals were worse than those of the average citizen. Four-fifths thought that political authorities could 'never' be trusted to do the right thing" (Fallows 203). Opinions such as these are not generated out of a vacuum. The voters' views of politics is partially a by-product of what they learn from the news media. Fully two-thirds of Americans receive the majority of their political information from television news (Lichter and Noyes 2). With this depth of dependency on the mainstream news sources, it is only natural that the American voter's attitude about politics is heavily influenced by these same news sources. 16

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When the press shape their campaign stories in a strategic framework, Jamieson states, voters become cynical about the candidates and the political process (Cappella and Jamieson 168). Following is an example of strategic framing by CBS reporter Rita Braver: President Clinton came here, to the splendor of the Grand Canyon, to stake his claim as the environmental president by staging the mother of all photo-opportunities ... The White House said Mr. Clinton made the announcement here in Arizona because the Utah area was too remote to reach. But the real reason may have been that the president has almost no chance of winning Utah, while he does have high hopes of taking the Republican stronghold of Arizona (CBS, 9118/96). In this example, the reporter implies that the words and actions of the candidate are not genuine and that his speech is merely a vehicle to capture votes. This type of reporting reinforces the old adage that a politician will say anything to get elected. Even if journalists are not personally cynical about politicians, their strategic framing of stories can logically have a negative affect on the majority of Americans who receive their political information from the mainstream media. Campaign News Coverage and Voter Behavior Thus far, I have argued that the dominance of game-centered political news coverage. does not educate voters on campaign issues, diminishing the educational value of a campaign. Also discussed has been the adverse affect this type of journalism has on voters' attitudes. The third correlation between game-centered news and the public are the affects on the behavior of voters. 17

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Game-centered news coverage reduces the campaign to theatre, turning voters into passive spectators. Jamieson argues that the "strategy schema invites the audience to critique a campaign as if it were a theatrical performance in which the audience is involved only as a spectator'' (Jamieson 186). How did the candidate look? Did he "appear presidential?" Who "performed" better during the debate? The most familiar example of this type of critique is the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon debate. Because the news media frequently report using a strategy framework, voters have learned to view campaigns through a similar lens. Viewing the electoral process as a contest between two personalities as opposed to two ideologies has become the norm. This concentration on image and personality further reduces the educational value of a campaign because the issues are usually neglected. Continuing in this vein, because voters are reduced to spectators by game centered news, their involvement in the campaign decreases. Jamieson points out" ... the strategy schema minimizes audience involvement in more traditional forms of democratic participation such as voting" (Jamieson 197). Concurring with Jamieson, Patterson adds: ... stories about the issues and the candidates' qualifications bring out the politics in voters, eliciting evaluations of the candidates' leadership and personal traits and of their records and policy positions. These stories also cultivate more involvement..."( Order 89). Of course, the amount of game-centered news is not the only factor in determining whether or not voters participate in an election. Party allegiance, for 18

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example, is a strong indicator of voter participation (Polsby and Wildavsky 15). However, reducing the political gamesmanship in the news and increasing the substantive topics enhances the likelihood that citizens will exercise their right to vote. Much of this decreased involvement in the political process is due to a feeling of detachnlent which is a result of being a political spectator in lieu of a political participant. Political scientist and media analyst Doris Graber found in her research that people having a detached attitude about politics also believed that politics had little affect on their lives (Graber). Additionally she found that people who have removed themselves from the process did little to keep up with the news and often ignored the news totally (Graber 66). Turning political participants and news consumers into spectators, as game-centered news reporting often does, belittles the political process and contributes to voter apathy. I have shown some of the negative consequences of game-centered political news. The next section discusses some of the prevailing views of why the quality of the media's coverage has declined i:h recent years and who or what is behind the decline. The Decline of Campaign News In reviewing the literature, many journalists and academics alike agree that campaign news has declined over the last twenty-five years and all offer reasons as to why they think this is true. In a very broad sense, the reasons can be defined as economical and political, and these two theories are examined next. Following that, I 19

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conclude the literature review by looking at the argument as to who is most a faultthat is, who is leading the decline, journalists or politicians? Economic Theories of Declining News Coverage The most common reason given as to why game-centered news pervades campaign coverage in lieu of more substantive news is that substantive coverage is not considered "news." Once a story on a candidate's issue position has been reported, regardless of how many or how few people have been exposed to the story, it no longer has news value. "Because the news is what is different about events of the past 24 hours, the newsworthiness of what a candidate says about public policies is limited. To be specific, once a candidate makes known his position on an issue, further statements concerning that issue decline in news value" (Patterson, Media 30). The length of the campaign makes it impossible for candidates to have newsworthy statements every day, and the result is the media's search for what is new, usually horse race or strategy-driven stories. Part of this search for "news" is boredom on the part of journalists. Traveling with a campaign for many months and hearing many of the same speeches over and over, journalists, understandably, look for any variation for their daily report. If they do not report it, their competitor will, and game coverage usually fills this void. Washington Post columnist David Broder quotes a fellow journalist to explain why horse race coverage permeates campaign news: "Why do we do it? Tradition. Habit. Laziness. Because, sometimes, our editors want us to do it. Because we see politics 20

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as a kind of game, a race between various performers, and we're the timekeepers. Because it's easy and because, maybe, it's fun" (Broder 242). Attempting to stave off monotony, however, is a small part of why reporters offer up an over-abundance of strategy-driven campaign stories. The bottom line for networks and newspapers is money, and an exciting story will be more apt to draw viewers and sell newspapers. "The primary function of the mass media is to attract and hold a large audience for advertisers. They also inform and entertain ... but informing and entertaining are only means to the end of providing a mass audience for advertisers" (Jamieson and Campbell4). Advertisers, of course, wanting to reach the largest audience, pay attention to television ratings and newspaper sales. The result, argues journalist James Fallows, is that networks and newspapers, bought out by massive corporations and chains over the last twenty years, are being run like businesses: Bottom-line pressure--for survival in newspapers, for increased ratings and profits in TV--has made editors moreIike managers, and has made reporters more conscious of increasing their flexibility and salability ... These changes ... have weakened the media's ability to tell us what we need to know (73). It is no coincidence that three of the most respected newspapers in the country, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times still have a large percentage of their stock controlled by original family members (Fallows 71). These families have tried to keep their newspapers from being dominated by a corporate mentality. 21

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It is that need for reporters to be salable that has encouraged many to include an edge, or spin, in their stories. More than 10,000 reporters currently cover Washington DC on a daily basis (Lichter and Noyes 5), all covering the same stories, and all competing with one another in an effort to add something original to their reports. Their originality often comes in the form of what Fallows calls a "kicker," an ending to their story that contrasts what the politician said with what the reporter believes (61). This style of reporting may enable a reporter to make his or her mark, but it also contributes to viewers finding reporters cynical and politicians untrustworthy. But reporters feel they have no choice due to the stiff competition they face as well as a need to respond to the spin they feel politicians use all of the time. Ending stories with a "kicker" enables a reporter to stand out from the rest of the journalists, enhancing his or her news program, and hopefully that program's ratings. In addition to the findings that game-centered news is considered more newsworthy than issue coverage, and that ratings play a large part in how a story is covered, game-centered news is also prevalent on television and in newspapers because it is easy to report and entails no additional spending for research by the news organization. "Saying whether a new Medicare proposal makes sense or not requires learning something about budgets and health care. Saying whether it helps or hurts Bob Dole can be done off the top of the head" (Fallows 146). Fallows goes on to call this type of reporting the equivalent of"water cooler conversations" because journalists often report what they have discussed that day with other journalists. 22

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Political scientist and campaign analyst Larry Sabato concurs with this view, stating: "Most journalists are generalists, unfamiliar with the nuances and complexities of many issues and therefore unprepared to focus on them in news stories" (McCubbins 129). This "water-cooler'' reporting costs the news organization nothing in research time and is easy for the reporter to put together quickly in order to meet the day's impending deadline. Political Theories of Declining News Coverage It is not the news organization, reporters, or the political candidates that are responsible for the decline in the quality of political journalism according to some. The political system, argued Thomas Patterson, and specifically the reforms as called for by the McGovern-Fraser Commission, are at the root of the problem (Order 33). McGovern-Fraser. The main purpose of the McGovern-Fraser reforms of 1970 (adopted at the Democratic National Convention in 1972) was to change the presidential nominating process in order to make it more open and fair. In the previous campaign of 1968, Hubert Humphrey received the Democratic nomination over Eugene McCarthy after having never competed in a primary. The party was already deeply divided over the Viet-Nam War, and Humphrey's nomination by party elite and former Johnson supporters exacerbated the problem. The new rules were designed to remove power from political insiders by ruling out "the use of party caucuses and 'delegate primaries' to select delegates in favor of more open conventions and 'candidate primaries' in which prospective delegates would run as 23

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committed to a particular presidential candidate" (McCubbins 18). The end result was a change from a system of one-third primary states and two-thirds convention states to nearly three-fourths of convention delegates chosen by voters in primary elections (Patterson, Order 31 ). More significantly than this systemic change, however, was the resultant change in the increased role of the press and the corresponding decreased role of the political party in presidential campaigns. The party had been the vehicle by which candidates were selected and evaluated, but the new reforms inadvertently gave this power to the media. The media now found themselves able to determine which candidates were viable merely by the amount of news coverage they gave a candidate. The candidates needed the volume of publicity only the media could give. Although the new process seemed workable, there were inevitable problems-the primary one being that news organizations have a different objective than do political parties. Patterson expands on this point: proper organization of electoral opinion requires an institution ... capable of seeing the larger picture ... and it must be accountable for its choices, so that the public can reward it when satisfied and force amendments when dissatisfied. The press has none of these characteristics" (Order 36). Additionally, Patterson believes that the new role of the press conflicts with their traditional role, that of political watchdogs. It is impossible, maintains Patterson, for the watchdog press to play the old party role of coalition-builders--bringing voters 24

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and candidates together (Order 51). Watchdog journalism (protecting the electorate by scrutinizing candidates' behaviors) achieves the opposite of coalition-building; it separates the voters from the candidates. Add to this conflict the fact that the media's main goal is to attract an audience. The need for an audience outweighs the need to inform, and the result often is substandard election news coverage. Who's Agenda--The Media's or the Politician's? As we have seen, there are divergent views in the literature as to why campaign news coverage is often inferior. The question addressed at this point to conclude the literature review is "Who is responsible for perpetuating this type of news coverage?" Of course, the politicians and the press each blame each other. As previously discussed, Patterson found the political system most at fault for today' s news coverage, not necessarily the politicians or the media. At the same time, however, he also believes that the politicians do give the media an abundance of substantial news items to report and that the media, for myriad reasons already discussed, choose to report on the game aspects of the campaign. Patterson claims, for example, that politicians speak in "sound bites" because anything longer or more thoughtful will not appear in the news that day (Order 159). Further, the one-liners that are often the sound bites heard on the evening news contain the controversy the press desires. "Dukakis's 'Good Jobs at Good Wages' had no chance of competing with Bush's 'Read My Lips."' (Patterson, Order 160). Campaign consultants believe that the only way their candidate is guaranteed news coverage is through the use of 25

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snappy sound bites. The media, then, in Patterson's opinion, are more at fault than the politicians for perpetuating inferior campaign news coverage. In their analysis of the 1992 campaign, Lichter and Noyes found that the media was directly responsible for ignoring the issues, even though the information was there to report: "This was primarily a result of journalists' choices, not the candidates' failures. Their speeches contained far more substance than the news accounts conveyed; they provided the raw material for any number of substantive pieces that were never written or broadcast" (127). Probably the strongest indictment against the media comes from within its own ranks by journalist James Fallows. The basis ofFallows' criticism is that the national press corps' craving for celebrity status and astronomical salaries and speaking fees has resulted in a change in journalistic values. Instead of reporting issues important to the nation, ... mainstreamjoumalism has fallen into the habit of portraying public life in America as a race to the bottom, in which one group of conniving, insincere politicians ceaselessly tries to outmaneuver another" (7). Fallows charges his colleagues with passing on to the American public their own cynicism and distrust of politicians. The worst aspect of this attitude is that new ideas offered by politicians often are not covered by the media in any depth. Fallows cites Clinton's health care proposal as an example. What appeared in the newspapers and on television, for the most part, was not a thoughtful discussion of the merits of the Clinton health care 26

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plan. What did appear were the inside political battles, Hillary Clinton's role in the debate; and ill-informed journalists issuing their own thumbs-up and thumbs-down on an incredibly complicated piece of legislation. Fallows cites a study of the media's coverage of the health care issue: ... despite a year's worth of coverage, the public remained confused on basic factual issues about the contents of the Clinton plan ... (226). An opportunity for public debate and education on a subject most Americans care deeply about was squandered by the "elite" media. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, however, would place the majority of the blame for the downward spiral of campaign coverage on the candidates. She claims the candidates "employ all available strategies for manipulating the press" (Jamieson and Campbell 265). This is done by creating pseudo-events designed strictly for media coverage and by limiting the media's access to candidates. The staged events do not offer any substantive news. The limited access to candidates (Reagan was the best example) denies the voters an opportunity to hear directly from the candidate without the screen of his political handlers. The resulting news coverage is lacking in substance in part because the media spend their time pointing out the theatrics of a campaign or the strategy behind the inaccessibility of the candidate (Jamieson and Campbell 266). Journalist David Broder agrees with Jamieson's assessment. He reflects back to the Nixon administration as the origin of limiting the press's access to candidates. Said an anti-press Nixon: "I think the American people are entitled to see the President 27

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and to hear his views directly and not to see him only through the press" (Broder 165). Limiting press conferences is a way to prevent gaffes and to maintain tight control of a campaign. In 1984, "President Reagan avoided all formal news conferences ... from late June until Election Day'' (Broder 241 ). Bush followed similar tactics. When candidates avoid the media, the media is left reporting on the horse race, trivia, and goss1p. Finally, in their analysis ofthe 1984 and 1988 campaigns, Stempel and Wmdhauser concluded that politicians set the campaign agenda, and with negative results: "We believe that the lack of coverage ... largely reflects what the candidates did ... They didn't get coverage because the candidates did not address them [the issues]. .. (205). One of their research conclusions is that the press should take a more enterprising role in pursuing the issues and not allow candidates to control campaign news coverage. In the final analysis, the question as to_ who is setting the agenda for campaign coverage has become a classic chicken-and-egg argument. Those who believe the candidates are responsible also concede that the press is often hostile and candidates are then forced to tightly control (stage) everything they say and do. Those who believe the media bear responsibility for setting an agenda of substandard news coverage admit that the proliferation of political consultants and handlers by presidential candidates lend an air of distrust to the campaign. Both views are thoughtfully summarized by journalist David Broder: 28

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The conflict will not likely be resolved. Candidates always want to be taken at face value and to have us report their words just as they deliver them, without interpretation, analysis, or comment, even when they and their agents have obviously glossed their own product and denigrated the opposition. And the press is sometimes guilty of seeking secret motives and stratagems even where none exist, and of reporting campaigns as if they were all tactics and no substance. Both sides--the press and the candidates--are too conscious of each other and not mindful enough of the third parties outside our clique--readers, viewers, voters (297). It is true that both the media and the candidates can share responsibility for an abundance of game coverage and lack of substantive news coverage. For the general public, however, who is to blame for the decline in the quality of political journalism is not as significant as how this decline affects the political process. This literature review addressed some of the consequences apparent when gamesmanship dominates campaign news. News consumers, especially those receiving their information from network news, learn very little about the important issues of the day. When newspapers report on substantive matters, they generally do a better job than the networks; however, all too frequently newspapers also devote most of their space to stories concerning campaign strategy and the horse race. With the exception of news concerning campaign debates and party conventions, studies show that the mainstream news media generally fail to educate their audiences. The abundance of game has been found to negatively affect the attitudes of some, contributing to a cynical view of the politics and politicians. Additionally, a steady diet of political gamesmanship in the news has a tendency to keep voters away from the polls on election day. Whether the cause of poor campaign 29

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coverage lies more with the media for turning its back on substance in favor of stories that sell, or with the politcal system itself: is a debateable point. As with most complex problems, there are no simple solutions. The concern in this study, however, lies more with the media. In the next chapter, METHODOLOGY, I discuss my examination of the mainstream news media's coverage of Campaign '96, and the means used to accomplish this end. 30

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CHAPTER3 METHODOLOGY To reiterate, the major investigation in this paper is how the mainstream news media covered the presidential campaign in 1996 in terms of the amount of game coverage versus the amount of substantive coverage. Game coverage consisted of horse race news (stories about winning and losing), strategy-centered news (stories dealing with how to get ahead or stay ahead in the campaign), or stories about campaign appearances. An example of a game centered article in 1996 was entitled "For Clinton, Dole, Big Five States Hold Key to Election." The article discussed the 99 electoral votes at stake in these five states, how each candidate fared in each state, and what each candidate needed to do to win each of these states. See Appendix A for article. Substantive news coverage predominantly dealt with stories explaining a candidate's position (or past positions) on matters of public policy and/or current issues, general articles explaining the importance or background of an issue, or stories about a candidate's qualifications for the presidency. An example of a substantive news story in 1996 was entitled "Clinton Not to Blame for Rise in Teen Drug Use, Experts Say." This article tracked and discussed the use of illegal drugs. Also included was Dole's and Clinton's actions and comments on the subject. See Appendix B for article. 31

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Content Analysis This study seeks to emulate the study by Professor Thomas E. Patterson in his book The Mass Media Election: How Americans Choose Their President. One of the many things Patterson examines in his campaign studies is the amount of game coverage versus substantive coverage by the news media. It is this portion of his studies that I have used as a model for my analysis of the campaign stories of 1996. The basic methodology which has been employed in conducting this study is content analysis. Content analysis is defined as "a systematic technique for analyzing message content and message handling--it is a tool for observing and analyzing the overt communication behavior of selected communicators" (Budd, Thorton and Donohew 2). The communicators in this case were the news media, specifically newspapers and network television. Content analysis is used heavily in research in the social sciences, especially when a careful reading (or listening) of material is required. Content analysis can be quantitative, qualitative, or a combination of the two. For example, a quantitative analysis of a newspaper article could entail counting the number of times a particular word occurs. An example of a qualitative analysis might be a search for the appearance of, or omission of, a particular idea. Either quantitative or qualitative analysis is considered a legitimate form of content analysis. Often, however, a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis is desired, as was the case with this investigation. A qualitative examination of news stories was needed because what was being investigated could not fit neatly under the 32

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heading of a particular word or single idea. This investigation entailed coding a story based on its major theme (game or substance). An understanding of the story, in its entirety, wasnecessary. After all stories were coded, a quantitative compilation was made enabling a clear summary of the findings. Collection of Data Campaign related news articles from three different newspapers were examined: The Los Angeles Times, selected for its wide readership and western location; The Washington Post, selected for its eastern location and for its unique, insider perspective on politics; and The Denver Post, a local newspaper representing a wide readership in the Rocky Mountain Region. Patterson examined four different newspapers: The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, The Erie (P A) Times, and The Erie News. Patterson chose these newspapers for three reasons. First, he wanted to compare two diverse media markets, one large and one small. Second, because he was also interviewing people within these communities, he wanted a sampling of a fairly homogenous population (Erie) and a diverse one (Los Angeles). Lastly, he wanted the communities to be located in different parts of the country. Because of the lack of accessibility to any newspapers other than those few nationally distributed papers, I was unable to replicate Patterson's sources with the exception of The Los Angeles Times. I chose papers in Denver and Washington, DC to meet his call for regional diversity. 33

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The articles chosen were all campaign related news stories. In keeping with Patterson's model, editorials were excluded. Editorials. were excluded because they are found, generally, in a separate section of a newspaper and are not presented as "news," but as opinion. It is news reporting that is under investigation in this study. The articles used are from the time period of September 1 through Election Day, 1996: a span of approximately 64 days. This period was chosen because Labor Day has traditionally been known as the beginning of the main, and final, leg of a presidential campaign. Patterson's time span for investigation was January 1 through Election Day, 1976. In addition to the general election, he was interested in the news coverage of the primaries. I chose only to investigate the general election because it is the usual time span studied in many other campaign studies, and because of the unlikely feasibility of one person covering so much material in my allotted time span. In newspaper analyses, my unit of measurement was the article. If it was not abundantly clear after reading the article as to which category it belonged, game or substance, the next unit of measurement was the paragraph, with paragraphs counted to determine the content of the majority of the article. In a telephone conversation with Professor Patterson, I learned that it is highly unusual to have to go to this length, however, because most articles obviously lean in one direction or the other. I also examined the three main evening news programs: ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings; CBS Evening News with Dan Rather; and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. These programs were chosen because oftheir availability 34

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to all viewers. (The availability of CNN is limited to those with cable subscriptions.) Shows were taped at random, averaging 10 per week. Because CBS News (6:00p.m.) had a time slot different from the other two programs (which both aired at 5:30p.m.), there are more recordings of the CBS program. Due to my inability to record the other two programs simultaneously, I alternated their taping. I do not feel that this detracts from the legitimacy of the study because in most previous studies (including Patterson's) the networks were so similar in their campaign coverage that the results were lumped together. Patterson also examined the networks' evening news coverage, and chose the news days he used randomly. In examining the network programs, the unit of measurement was the story. Again, if there was any doubt as to classification of the story, the unit of measurement was further tightened and the story content was measured in seconds. The time span analyzed was the same as the time span for newspapers: September 1 through Election Day, 1996. Patterson studied the network news programs from January 1 through Election Day, again incorporating the primaries in his investigation. Reliability In an effort to assure reliability of the content analysis for this study, I have followed the guidelines ofDr. Klaus Krippendorff, a Professor of Communication from the University ofPennsylvania's Annenburg School of Communication, contained in his book Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology. Krippendorff outlines three criteria to test reliability: 35

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Stability. "Stability is the degree to which a process is invariant or unchanging over time. Stability becomes manifest under test-retest conditions, such as when the same coder is asked to code a set of data twice, at different points in time" (130). I have used this practice and have intermittently gone back and blindly recoded random articles, over a time span of approximately six months, making sure my results are consistent. After recoding 26 articles, 24 matched the original findings, which is a level of consistency of92.3%. Reproducibility "Reproducibility is the degree to which a process can be recreated under varying circumstances, at different locations, using different coders" ( 131 ). In this study, I had three graduate students at the University of Colorado Denver code the same ten articles. The articles were chosen randomly, but I did make sure that the sample included articles from each category. Each person was given the same written coding instructions. This test checked for my own inconsistencies or biases, as well as inconsistencies or biases among the different coders. Of the 30 articles coded, reliability exceeded 93%. Accuracy "Accuracy is the degree to which a process functionally conforms to a known standard ... and is met "when the performance of one coder ... is compared with what is known to be the correct performance or measure" (131). For this study, the measure 36

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of accuracy would be comparing my coding with that of Patterson. Patterson's raw data is not available. Therefore, this was not possible. However, measures of stability and reproducibility (two of the three criteria of reliability) indicate that the content analysis in this study meets academic requirements. The next chapter (FINDINGS) is a compilation of the raw data gathered on the media's coverage of the 1996 election. The results will show the mainstream news media's strong penchant towards reporting campaign coverage in the form of game and strategy as opposed to covering substantive topics more useful to voters. 37

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CHAPTER4 FINDINGS A content analysis of the 1996 campaign coverage by ABC, NBC and CBS evening news, and The Los Angeles Times, The Denver Post and The Washington Post newspapers, revealed what was predicted: an overwhelming number of stories emphasizing the political game within a campaign. Specifically, the findings show that the campaign strategy of a candidate (how he planned to get ahead or stay ahead) was the main focus of the news sources analyzed for this study. There were a total of 605 campaign news stories analyzed for their content. Table 4.1 shows the breakdown: TABLE4.1 NUMBER OF NEWS STORIES ANALYZED ABC NEWS 54 NBC NEWS 14 CBS NEWS 48 lA 11MES 161 DENVER POST 123 WASH POST 205 The following tables show how each of these news sources break down according to game and substantive news coverage per candidate. 38

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TABLE 4.2 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE NETWORK TELEVISION 9-1-96-11-4-96 ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT Game Substance Other* Total CBS EVENING NEWS Game Substance Other* Total NBC NIGHTLY NEWS Game Substance Other* Total 61% 22% 17% 100% 67% 29% 4% 100% 64% 29% 7% 100% (33 stories) (12 stories) ( 9 stories) (54 stories) (32 stories) (14 stories) ( 2 stories) ( 48 stories) ( 9 stories) ( 4 stories) ( 1 story) ( 14 stories) *"Other'' includes stories about health records, campaign finance, etc., that did not fall within the definition of"garne" or "substance." 39

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TABLE 4.3 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE NETWORK TELEVISION BY CANDIDATE 9-1-96-11-4-96 CLINTON DOLE Game Substance Other* Total Game Substance Other* Total COMBINATION** Game Substance Other* Total 62% 24% 14% 100% 80% 12% 8% 100% 42% 58% 0 100% (26 stories) (10 stories) ( 6 stories) (42 stories) ( 40 stories) ( 6 stories) ( 4 stories) (50 stories) (1 0 stories) (14 stories) 0 (24 stories) *"Other'' includes stories about health records, campaign finance, etc., that did not fall within the definition of"game" or "substance." **"Combination" stories contain information about each candidate. 40

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TABLE 4.4 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE THE LOS ANGELES TIMES 9-1-96 11-4-96 CLINTON Game 67% Substance 20% Other* 13% Total 100% DOLE Game 79% Substance 8% Other* 13% Total 100% COMBINATION Game 52% Substance 20% Other* 28% Total 100% Total number of stories = Total number game stories= Total number substantive stories= Total number other stories = 161 111 (69%) 23 (14%) 27 (17%) 41 (30 stories) ( 9 stories) ( 6 stories) (45 stories) ( 60 stories) ( 6 stories) (1 0 stories) (76 stories) (21 stories) ( 8 stories) ( 11 stories) ( 40 stories)

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TABLE 4.5 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE THE DENVER POST 9-1-96 11-4-96 .CLINTON Game 61% (28 stories) Substance 22% ( 1 0 stories) Other* 17% ( 8 stories) Total 100% ( 46 stories) DOLE Game 75% ( 4 3 stories) Substance 20% (11 stories) Other* 5% ( 3 stories) Total 100% (57 stories) COMBINATION Game 65% ( 13 stories) Substance 30% ( 6 stories) Other* 5% ( 1 story) Total 100% (20 stories) Total number of stories = 123 Total number of game stories = 84 (68%) Total number of substantive stories= 27 (22%) Total number of other = 12 (10%) 42

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TABLE 4.6 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE THEW ASHINGTON.POST 9-1-96-11-4-96 CLINTON Game 60% ( 4 7 stories) Substance 18% (14 stories) Other* 22% (17 stories) Total 100% (78 stories) DOLE Game 70% ( 62 stories) Substance 17% ( 15 stories) Other* 13% ( 11 stories) Total 100% (88 stories) COMBINATION Game 31% (12 stories) Substance 54% (21 stories) Other* 15% ( 6 stories) Total 100% (39 stories) WASHINGTON POST SUMMARY Total number of stories = 205 Total number game stories= 121 (59%) Total number substantive stories= 50 (24%) Total number of other= 34 (17%) 43

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TABLE 4.7 NEWS COVERAGE OF GAME AND SUBSTANCE SUMMARY Network LA News Times Game 64% 69% Substance 26% 14% Other 10% 17% ALL NEWS SOURCES SUMMARY Total number of stories = Total number game stories = Total number substantive stories= Total number other= 605 390 (64%) 130 (22%) 85 (14%) 44 Denver Post 68% 22% 10% Washington Post 59% 24% 17%

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A comparison of the numbers from the 1996 general election with those of Patterson's study done in 1976 revealed that while game coverage outweighed substantive coverage twenty years ago, there was not yet the dominance of the game aspects in campaign news as it exists today. In the two direct comparisons able to be made with Patterson (network news and The Los Angeles Times), the findings are striking. Patterson found in 1976 that network news coverage consisted of 51% game, 35% substance and 14% other (Media 29). In 1996, network news game coverage jumped to 64%, and substantive coverage dropped to 26%. A more drastic increase in game coverage was evident in comparing The Los Angeles Times of today with twenty years ago: 42% of coverage was game in 1976 as compared to 69% in 1996, while substantive coverage decreased from 42% to 14%. This change in the content of campaign news coverage has taken place gradually, over the last twenty years (Patterson, Order 74), but a side-by-side comparison such as this quickly illustrates the profound changes evident in campaign journalism. In reviewing the findings, all news sources analyzed contained more game centered news than substantive news in 1996. (Game-centered news included stories pertaining to campaign strategy, campaign appearances and the horse race.) There is one exception to this trend. In network news coverage, as well as in The Washington Post, more substantive stories than game stories were found under the classification of "Combination." "Combination" stories contained information about both candidates, usually in the form of a direct comparison between conflicting ideologies. The 45

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networks featured special analysis segments, such as CBS' "In Touch With America" and ABC's "Reality Check." These features generally examined the candidates' stands on issues and their voting records or past comments on those issues, allowing the viewer to form some type of comparison between the two candidates. These segments were lengthy for television news (about five minutes) and were, without doubt, the most informative stories featured on network television. Unforunately, these stories were a small minority of the total coverage. The Washington Post featured a similar format, entitled "Where They Stand," which was run the last few weeks of the campaign. Another finding was that Senator Dole received much more game coverage than did President Clinton. Dole's game coverage ranged from 10 to 18 percentage points higher that Clinton's, depending on the news source. The majority of these stories were strategy driven--discussing tactics the Dole campaign used in an attempt to catch Clinton in the polls. For example, new "strategies" by Dole included his anti drug "Just Don't Do It" campaign, calling Clinton's staff criminals, calling for Clinton's health records, calling Clinton a "liberal," and making campaign finance an issue. At one point, ABC correspondent James Wooten declared there was "a certain sadness" about watching Dole trying to find a message that resonated with voters. Indeed, many campaign stories on Senator Dole that contained some substance were framed in such a way as to make many of his ideas appear tactical, at best, and often times gimmicky: 46

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From The Los Angeles Times: Attempting to defy the polls and reverse his fortunes, Bob Dole on Tuesday returned to the one issue his campaign believes could still win the election for him-his pledge to cut personal income tax rates by 15%. Dole has vacillated from one theme to another during much of the campaign ... (Shogren and Peterson A4). From The Denver Post: Bob Dole's new campaign urgency propelled him in all directions yesterday as he lobbed tougher character charges at PresidentClinton, and, at one point, referred to him as "Bozo" (Feeney IA). Also from The Denver Post: Amid cases of motor oil, charcoal briquets and pizza flour ... Bob Dole yesterday tried a type of campaigning he has largely avoided until now--a 30 minute, free-flowing conversation with a curious, invitation-only, audience of supporters (Nagoumey SA). Bob Dole's campaign was largely portrayed as desperate and indecisive, with most of his ideas relayed by the media as campaign strategy designed to boost his poll ratings. In the next chapter, ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION, I briefly discuss these findings. Following that, I then discuss some ideas about how to improve campaign news coverage. 47

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CHAPTERS ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION An examination of Campaign '96 revealed two findings. The first finding was that the number of stories dealing with campaign strategy had increased over the previous presidential campaign, while the number of stories having any substantive merit remained low. The second finding was that the sheer number of stories carried on network news about the campaign dropped significantly compared to 1992. The former finding is a result of my investigation of the campaign as detailed in Chapter 4. The latter finding is a result drawn from another study, but is discussed here because both findings are closely related and because the latter result helps to illuminate my study ofCampaign '96. Although the finding that the mainstream news media covered the political game more often than substantive stories was an expected one, the numbers were higher than anticipated. On average, 64% of the 605 stories evaluated in this study were game-centered. Because of the many criticisms of previous campaign coverage, I expected this number to be at least 10 to 20 percentage points lower. Unfortunately, the media's effort to report more substantive stories fell short. Often, as noted in the literature review, issues were alluded to, but rarely explained. Following is a typical example of this from the 1996 campaign: A combative Bob Dole brought the Republican presidential campaign to Denver for the sixth time yesterday, delivering a stinging, at times 48

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humorous, denunciation of Clinton administration ethics while touting education refonn and his tax-cut plan (Bettelheim Al). This article continues for another eighteen paragraphs (a relatively long story) with no other mention of Dole's education refonn, and stating only that his tax plan, according to Dole, "would give working families more money for child care, mortgage payments and vacations." The story does, however, discuss at length the current polls and Dole's campaign plans. Most of the game-centered stories in this study discussed the candidates' strategies. The number of pure horse race stories was not high, reflecting the absence of a close race. (Polls continually showed that Clinton had an insunnountable lead.) From the beginning, Dole was portrayed by the media as a candidate who did not have a chance to win the presidency. The media did, however, report how he was attempting to improve his poll numbers. These campaign strategy stories account for a majority of the game-related news coverage in this study. Reinforcing my own conclusions, a study done by the Center for Media and Public Affairs found that the top three topics on the network news were, in order, Dole's strategy, Clinton's strategy, and the tone of the Dole campaign (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 3). In every news source examined for this study, Senator Dole received a larger percentage of game-centered news coverage than did President Clinton. This trend occurred not only because of the media's negative view of Dole's chances for winning, but also because of the advantages given an incumbent president: 49

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Everything the president does is news and is widely reported by the media. The issues to which the president devotes his attention are likely to become the national issues because of his unique visibility and capacity to center public attention on matters he deems important. To this extent, he is in a position to focus public debate on issues he thinks are most advantageous (Polsby and Wildavsky 96). For example, less than two months before the election, President Clinton signed an order which designated 1. 7 million acres of canyon lands in southern Utah as a national monument. He took advantage of his high profile, signing a popular environmental initiative. The media responded with pictures of the President signing the initiative with breathtaking vistas of the Grand Canyon in the background. Incumbency allowed Clinton many photo opportunities, as well as heightened media coverage of bill signings and White House ceremonies. Interestingly, the abundance of news coverage afforded an incumbent is often negative. According to the Center for Media and Public Affairs, "Incumbent presidents typically endure highly negative media coverage when they run for a second term" (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 3). However, fifty percent ofPresident Clinton's press coverage was positive between Labor Day and the election, surpassing incumbents Bush, Reagan and Carter (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 3). The challenger, Senator Dole, received only 33% positive news coverage between Labor Day and Election Day (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 3). Finally, there was less campaign news on the network evening programs than during Campaign '92 Campaign '88. In fact, between Labor Day and Election Day '96, network airtime of campaign news dropped a full 50% over 1992--from 24.6 50

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minutes per evening to 12.3 minutes (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 1). (These numbers represent a total from all three networks.) Incredibly, within this small time frame, a full 73% ofthe coverage was expended by journalists: ... only 13% [ofthe coverage] featured comments from the candidates themselves" (Lichter and Lichter, Nov I). Of these direct comments, the average comment lasted 8.2 seconds, the lowest average soundbite ever recorded (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 1). The low number of stories presented by the networks in Campaign '96, as well as the brevity of the stories that did air, indicate a lack of interest in the presidential campaign. With Clinton owning a steady double digit lead throughout the campaign, there was no real race to report, and therefore, most mainstream media sources paid scant attention to the campaign. In summary, this study showed that the mainstream media's coverage of Campaign '96, d,uring the general election period, consisted primarily of game centered stories, and specifically on candidate strategy. This was true of newspapers and network television programs: 65% and 64% were game-centered campaign stories, respectively. Additionally, Senator Dole received a larger portion of the game coverage: network television featured non-substantive stories about the Dole campaign 80% of the time versus 62% for the Clinton campaign. Newspaper coverage was not much of an improvement: on average, 75% ofthe articles about Senator Dole were game related, versus 63% for Clinton. This result was most likely 51

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related to the fact that Senator Dole was forever playing catch-up to a commanding Clinton lead, and the president was using his incumbency to his advantage. These findings, combined with the results from the Center for Media and Public Affairs showing a sizeable decline of campaign coverage in general, reflect an unfortunate trend in campaign journalism. Game-related stories outnumbering stories about important issues has been an ongoing occurrence, especially obvious since the 1970's (Patterson, Order 74). Stories about winning and losing (horse race) have always existed. What is different in the last 25 years is that a candidate's strategy is now prevalent in news, and this prevalance continues to dominate and grow: The strategic game is embedded in virtually every aspect of election news, dominating and driving it. The game sets the context, even when issues are the subject of analysis. The game, once the backdrop in news of the campaign, is now so pervasive that it is almost inseparable from the rest of election content (Patterson, Order 69). Solutions In this study, it has been shown that the media over-report stories that lack substance and emphasize a candidate's strategy during a presidential campaign. The reasons for this lack of quality in campaign journalism have also been discussed. To reiterate, these reasons include the changing role of the press, and economic factors due to an increased corporate mentality of networks and newspapers. Additionally, specific to Campaign '96, was the fact that a lack of a close race served to intensify the strategic coverage. In concluding, I address some solutions as to how to improve the media's coverage of presidential campaigns. 52

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If Thomas Patterson could make one change in the way presidential campaigns currently conducted, it would be to shorten the campaign. "The state of nature that we call the media campaign is, to rephrase the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, nasty, brutish, and long--much too long" (Order 206). The media, candidates and the electorate would benefit from a shorter campaign season. As previously discussed, one of the reasons the media spend so much time reporting campaign strategy is their need to deliver a fresh story to their audiences. After several months on the campaign trail, most substantive stories seem stale, particularly to the reporter, and a new angle must be found. The media are under tremendous pressure to report something new every day because of the race for the best television ratings and newspaper sales. A shorter campaign would leave the press less time for stories pertaining to election strategy and the horse race. Additionally, Patterson states that contrary to common opinion, a long campaign does not enable voters to better learn about their choices for president: "Over the course of a long campaign, the voters get distracted from the performance of government, as lesser issues compete for their attention ... (a) year-long campaign actually makes the candidates' politics less intelligible to voters than would be a shorter one" (Order 210). This inability to get to know a candidate is not only due to voter distraction. Candidates also have difficulty focusing on one meaningful agenda over a long period of time. This is because they are pulled in two directions: trying to outline their ideas to voters while simultaneously trying to garner media attention. 53

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Therefore, there is a tendency to spend time trying to come up with something "newsworthy'' in order to appear on the evening news or tomorrow's front page. To the delight of the media, the result is usually a catchy sound bite or a colorful photo opportunity. A shortened presidential campaign would aid in keeping all parties focused on the issues that the electorate care most about. One last reason Patterson believes an abbreviated campaign would be beneficial is the fact that as a campaign progresses, the coverage by the media becomes increasingly negative (Order 210). Based on favorable and unfavorable references about nominees by Time and Newsweek magazines during presidential campaigns from 1972 through 1992, Patterson found that during the primaries 45% of their coverage was negative. By the general election phase of the campaign (Labor Day through Election Day) negative coverage rose to over 60% (Order 210). He states that this negativity escalates because there is "a tendency for negative themes to become embedded in journalists' narrative of the campaign" as the campaign wears on (Patterson, Order 210). According to Patterson, this occurs because of the "antipolitics bias" of the press due to the VietNam and Watergate eras, which "poisoned" the relationship between journalists and politicians (Order 19). In 1996, the numbers were similar to Patterson's past studies. Stories about the candidates featured on the network evening newscasts were, on average, negative 58% of the time (50% negative for Clinton, and 67% negative for Dole) (Lichter and Lichter, Nov 4). Stories about the '96 campaign itself were overwhelmingly negative: "The quality 54

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of Campaign '96 was criticized by 92% of network reporters and nonpartisan sources" (Lichter and Lichter,.Mar 4). These numbers for Campaign '96 reflect an ongoing trend of negative reporting. If shortening the campaign would serve to decrease these astounding numbers, then this is an idea that should be carefully studied. There exists some thought against shortening the campaign season however. Lichter argues that a shorter campaign would enhance the media's influence (Lichter and Noyes 277). For example, he thinks shortening the time frame between primaries would magnify the momentum of the winners. Momentum is key in primary races and the media have the power to add or detract from a candidate's momentum by declaring candidates "winners" or "losers." When :Michael Dukakis won fewer than one-half of the states on Super Tuesday 1988, he gained momentum because he did better than the press expected a governor from the northeast to do in the south. When a candidate exceeds the media's expectations, he is considered a "winner." And, of course, the opposite is true. If a candidate does not do as well as expected in a primary, even if he wins, he is considered vulnerable, lacking momentum, and/or possibly a "loser." "In 1984, Gary Hart won six states on Super Tuesday, but he 'lost' when the press interpreted Mondale's wins in Alabama and Georgia ... as a 'psychological victory ... (Patterson, Order 188). Lichter is correct in declaring the media powerful, especially during the primaries when media coverage is of paramount importance for candidates, particularly ones who are not well known by the electorate. But some ofPatterson's 55

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ideas to shorten the campaign address this criticism. For example, one suggestion Patterson made was to have several states hold their primaries (or caucuses) on the same day as Iowa and New Hampshire, diminishing those states' unrepresentative influence. He recommended having all primaries/caucuses start by late May or early June and having the primary season completed in six or eight weeks. The contests in Iowa and New Hampshire would fall within this time span and would no longer receive special status. The press currently give these two states a disproportionate amount of coverage, and much too much is made about the "winners" and "losers" in these two contests. Bringing Iowa and New Hampshire into the fold with the rest of the states would curtail the media's ability to play "kingmaker." Additionally, having multiple contests on the first primary day would offer a broader view of what voters around the country may be thinking, as opposed to a more limited view of only voters in Iowa or New Hampshire. The press will always have a great deal of influence. This is inevitable in our method of choosing a president (as opposed to, for example, a parliamentary form of government). The key is to abate the media's influence as much as possible. Where Patterson's answer to how to provide better political journalism lies in changing aspects of the political system, journalist James Fallows sees solutions by changing the way reporters do their jobs: "Do they want merely to entertain the public or to engage it?" (267). Fallows claims that currently, with very few exceptions (The Wall Street Journal and The Jim Lehrer News Hour for example), the media have been 56

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primarily entertaining the public. This may be acceptable in some instances, but journalists could elevate their profession, at the same time assist voters, by getting more involved in the political process. To do this, Fallows believes the media should practice "public" or "civic" journalism. This type of journalism advocates an activist media, a media involved with its community, a media with an impact. Public journalism is "a theory that reporters should be actively biased in favor of encouraging the community to be involved in politics" (Fallows 262). Local newspapers or television outlets would organize community meetings which enable citizens to discuss the issues they feel are most important to their neighborhoods. The Charlotte Observer, for example, polled constituents to fined out what specific questions they wanted answered during the campaign season. The newspaper sent the questions to the candidates and then printed their responses in the paper. This question and answer session worked well and voters were very pleased with the results. Variations can be made to accommodate the needs of different communities. Public journalism works best on a local or state level where journalists have a genuine tie to their communities and candidates are more likely to accommodate the media in their own constituency. But there are innovative ways to communicate to a national audience also. ''Nightline" host Ted Koppel has used a "townhall" format to discuss issues of national concern. Candidate Clinton, in 1992, was effective and informative with his talk show appearances and townhall question and answer 57

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sessions. The national news media (especially television because of its ubiquity) need to become more creative in presenting different formats to their audiences in order to first capture the attention ofthe audience, and then provide them with the information needed to make informed decisions about the issues, and then the candidates. Other Solutions The presidential campaign season is an ideal time for citizens to evaluate which policies are working well and which need to be improved or discarded. It is the media's responsibility to present this information, while at the same time making it palpable to those who either do not understand the complexity of some issues, or have lost hope in the political system altogether. There is an argument that television shows and magazines addressing substantive political issues already exist and are accessible to anyone who is interested. This argument is indeed true. However, most substantive political programs usually found on cable or public television seem to exist for those who already closely follow politics. For whatever reason, these programs just do not draw the sizeable audiences that network programming draws. As long as the networks command larger audiences for their news broadcasts, including "news magazines" such as 60 Minutes, 20120 or Dateline, they have an opportunity to reach and inform millions of viewers. Networks need to be creative in covering issues such as health care, social security, poverty, etc. These are not remote issues affecting only a they are very complex issues affecting most of us and require serious in-depth investigation. The presidential 58

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campaign season is one opportune time to do this by incorporating the candidates' viewpoints with investigate and informative journalism. One network did try an innovative approach. In October 1996, the CBS Evening News gave candidates Clinton and Dole free airtime to address the viewers. Their appearances came in 2-1/2 mmute uninterrupted blocks, per candidate, on four consecutive evenings. This strategy enabled viewers to hear what the candidates said, in the candidates' own words, without the media filter. A small step, but a step nevertheless. There are, of course, other alternatives. Washington Post journalist David Broder suggested that networks air "a substantial chunk of a candidate's speech or a statement dealing substantively with policy and comparing his views with those of his opponent" (268). Broder also suggested that networks make available I 0 or 15 minute prime-time blocks on a regular basis for the candidates with the networks specifying the weekly topics (268). Perhaps even better would be to have the networks donate the airtime to each candidate, thus eliminating possible financial obstacles for a cash poor candidate. (But one step at a time--candidates have a difficult enough time even persuading the networks to sell them airtime during lucrative prime time programming, except for the 30 or 60 second campaign ad.) Patterson writes about an idea that came out of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government called the "Nine Sundays" proposal, with nine Sundays between Labor Day and Election Day devoted to candidate debates, speeches and 59

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conversations (Order 234). These programs would be carried by all major networks (including cable) or rotated among cable and network television. Newspapers could print the content verbatim. This idea would give voters a keen insight into the candidates because of the differing forums. Most importantly, however, is that network television, in particular, must move forward on some of these initiatives. Because of their mass audiences and resources, the networks possess the power to change the way presidential campaigns are covered. If networks were more issue-oriented and less game-centered, millions of Americans would arrive at their polling places with substantially more knowledge about the candidates and the candidates' positions on the issues. It is clear from this study of the 1996 presidential campaign, and countless preceding studies, that mainstream news coverage of campaigns is inadequate at best. It is time for news sources to implement some of the knowledge they have gained from academia and from critiques coming from within their own ranks by highly respected journalists such as David Broder and James Fallows. The cori>orations behind network television and daily newspapers will always strive to attain the highest ratings and to outsell their competitors, respectively. Because of this fact, stories designed to entertain will inevitably find their way into the news. It would benefit all if a little less entertainment and a bit more substance were presented by the media, especially during the election season. Media would benefit by regaining some of the respect they have lost over the last quarter century; politicians would benefit because more of their 60

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messages would get conveyed to the public; and finally, viewers would benefit by gaining insight into issues that have no simple solutions and that require more than a cursory glance. 61

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I APmlDIX A 9-J. -% For Clinton, Dole, Big Five States Hold Key to Election Politics: Both must appeal to industrial heartland r issues, experts say. At stake are 99 electoral votes. By ROBERT SHOGAN TIMES POLITICAL WRITER CHICAGO-Start on the New Jersey side or the Hudson River and head west-across Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan-then skip across Lake Michigan to Illinois' farthest edge. Welcome to Main Street of Campaign 1996-the road President Clinton and Republican &b Dole will travel almost obsessively through the Nov. 5 election. The Big Five states traversed by t1Jis causeway Jtrovide 99 electoral votes, better than one-third the 270 needed to win the White House.-And with the naUon's two most populous states, 62 California and New York, seem ingly denied to Dole as things look now, Republicans acknowledge that their standard-bearer must win at least three of the Big Five to defeat Clinton (Democrats claim that Dole needs four). The good news for Clinton, com ing out or last week's convention here, is that based on recent sur veys, he would sweep all five if tlie election were held today. The hope for Dole rests on the reality that the election is still nine weeks orr-and that either his own stratagems, some Clinton blunder or some unforeseen external event will tum the tide in his favor. The importance of the Big Five not only will force both candidates Pleue He CAMPAIGN, .US ....

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A18 MONDAY. SEPTF.MBER 2. 1996 IiidtiStnaJHeartland's Big Five Seen EDIIDDed from AI commit mueh or their thin thoie borders, but alao rva to taUor the t.a&ue agenda to ian the rastes or the states' 52 million ciUzen.s. In Callfornl:l, such as lm IJIIgntlon and affirmative action :in:iy be the hot buttons. In other l'artll or the country, cullllrllllssues. as school proyer or gay rights, !nay dominate. Out here, more bread-and-butter toncema prevail-and shape the presidential debate. : '"I'hC!:!e make up the great lndustrl:ll heartland," said Demo_i:rouc pollster Mark Mellman. -rhe people who live there are common eense, mlddle-cla.'IS, solid clllzens who look at New York and Cali lor ilia aS eullurol extremes." 'f'por people here, . character Is not a focal point." 111ld Terry Madonna. a poll eter In Penn.qylvania. "They arc :Worried about pmvldilll!' for their .-famiiiC!ll and crime and can they send their kid to college." To be sure, the high-profile sex for-hire that forced the rcsifination of Clinton's top polillcal strategist. Dick Morris, served liS 11 reminder of the potenlllll explosive ness of the charocter quaUons that surTOUnd the prealdenL Out :l!ven Republicans conceded that it take a revelation bearing more l!ircclly on Clinton to have signifi. impnct on the presidential In the Dig Ftve states or anywhere else. :. "lt'a not going to hurt enough .. unfortunately," said longtime Re publican consultant Lyn NofZiger or Morris ease. The candidate!!. or course, will their efforts outside this one sector of Northeast and Midwcal states. Clinton is hoping to make Inroads ,in normally Republican Florida: Dole continUC:I to maintain a wrprisingly atrong in California. Still, the Big Five states are expected to be the aelting for the campaign's main show. What adds to their importance is that in recent presidential elections, they have voted as a bloc. In the three elections or the 19809. all lined up behind GOP candidates Ronald Reagan 11nd George Bush. In 1992, all revei'IIC!d themselves and wound up in Clinton's comer. In the time remaining before election day. Dole beam the burden of the fight to the running Clinton. And as the Re publicans see it. the target of choice for their candidate In the Big Five etatells the economy, With hl.s chief weapon his proJIOIIII[ for a 16% across-the-board cut In Income eu: rata "This 13 the weakest of Ove post World War II recoveries, 11nd two-thirds o! workers have anxiety about their Jobs," said Richard Wil liamson. a former Reagan White House aide and campaign strategist who lost a 1992 Senate race In Illinois. "Dab Dole hal to 'Staying the course Isn't good enough."' Illinois (22 electoral votes), Clinton starts out With a potent base In Chicago, kept soUd by Demo craUc Mayor Rlchanl M. Daley. And the president, who won the state In a walk In 1992. does well in conservuUve southern Illinois. "Carbondale Is cloecr to IJUie Rock than It Is to Chicago," Sllid Clinton's 1992 nauonal campaign manager. David Wilhelm. Dole's top supporter In the state Is Republican Gov. Jim Edgar. llut In the eyes of one etate GOP leader. F.Agor "has tremendous popularity but no clouL" Dole Is presumed to have narrowed the nearly 20'1ro lead Clinton enjoyed In the most recent polls, but even Republican Wil liamson conccdl!d that Clinton hos to be favored In the state. (his smallest margin among the Bi Five) offered proof, Democrat eonlend. that the urban problem that c.oused the middle elaato the cities had ultimately found nc the suburbs. Dole's bestliope may be that th resentment of lallcs allrred up I lnCI"C!!SC!S under former Dernocra1 Gov. James J. Florio remains etrar enough to rally support behind tl GOP toxcut proposal. Dut Rutgt University political scientist Ch Zukln warned: ''The same PC!OI' who are gripped by economic 111 certainty ore the people who that when Dole talks about sl reliance, he means 'We are n going to help you.'" Ohio (21 votes): F' years ogo, trodillonally con:cn Out In Michlgon, Dole "has to convince people that the tax cut is real and that It will work," said Independent pollster Ed Snrpolus. who Is based In the stale. "There is a lot of skepticism that It won't happen. and also people worry that it will odd to the deficit." Michigan (18 cll'Ctornl vntcs): [;:::=========== Dole trailed by about 10 points alatcwlde In n pnll conductl!d by SarpohL jtLl uflrr the GOP con vention In Son Diego. A partlculnrly nspeel of the urvey for Dole 13 that In the IMroit suburb of Macomb County, which Ouah carrll!d in 1992 even hc lest the state. Dole trailed Clinton by a hefly marf:ln. sun another difficulty for Dole and the GOP In this swalh of key slatt'9 ill the party's cmphiiSis on a traditional "family approach to socbl IS9ues. That llfl proach helped nurnct conservative Christians in the 19809. but it may have boomerongcd In the '00.., creating a perception of narrowness and Intolerance. To Win Illinois, said Williamson, Dole first hilS to say: '"I 11m not 11 captive of the intolerant religious righL I am not [Christian Coalition Elcccullve DtrcctorJ Ralph Reed. I am not Pill Duchanan.' The swing vote.ln Illinois doem't want to vote ror that perceived Intolerance ... Clinton faces his own challenges For Dole to win the slolc, Snrpo Ius ll:lid, he must start gcneroting enthusiasm among Macomb's blue collar 'ethnic voters for his talc-cut propnsal. N cw Jersey ( 15 electoral votes): This state's suburban voters gave Reagan and llush healthy majorities all through the l!l!IOs. Cllnton'a narrow win here in 1992 in the Dig Five. "The president has to respond to economic Insecurity that people in these states feel In ways that demonstrate he shares their values," Mellman sold. More than likely, Clinton will reprise the themes of his convention acceptance speech lick off the accomplishments ar his first term. outline his agenda for the rest of the century and remind voters of his efforts to defend the safety net or government programs against the alleged depredaUons of the Republican Congress. 1 In Pcnnsyl vania, lor Instance, r "the 104th Congress was the dlf lerence between the public attitude In 1995 and now," Madonna said. "l'cnnsylvnnians looked at what the Republicans were trying to do and just decided. 'This Is not what we want.'" Here is a look at the current landscape in each of the Five stale9: 63 LAST DAY plus NO tim/ t/1'1! 1/fJ/.fttft fun.'imrs punlutst. ,\itlt

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LOS ANGaJiS TIMtoS tland's Big Five States Seen Key to .Taking White House. . Illinois (22 votes): (!its smalle!St margin among the Dig UVC! sOUthern Ohio voters embraced 10 Dole's ec:onomte mi!S!is; 1W1 inton at.:lrts out with a potent base Five) orrered proor, Demoerat.s Clinton's message combining promappeal," Crwn said. ChlcaJ!O, kept solid by Democontend. that the urban problems Pennsylvania (23 rleetoral lUC: Mayor Rlc:hsrd M. D:lley. that caused the middle c:lall to nee thllt he ravol'l!d individuals votes). Dole's problems here lll"'! 1d the president, who won the the c:IUes had uiUmately round new lllklng responsibility ror their own pointed up by his weaknesses In tiC! In a wOI!k In 1992. does well in roots In lhe suburbs. lives. two key areas. In the Philadelphia nservaUve southern llllnoLI. Dole's best hope may be that the: Thci president's major wk Is to suburb!, normally a Republican "Carbondale Is c:laaer to Little I'I!SC!ntment or taxes aUrl'l!d up by hold their support. One potenll.ll JC:k than It Is to Chleago." said Increases under rormer Democratic problem spot, said University or stronghold, he barely edled Clinton lnton's 1992 naUonal eampalgn Gov. James J remalnntrong Akron. political sc:lcmllst John In a rocent polL Jnager, David Wilhelm. enough to support behind the Crccn, Is "a lot or unhappiness And among Roman Catholle ""I 's top aupportc In th tA COP tax-cut P""""""'' Dut Ru"ers amon" core Democrats" in thA voters, who make up about one-uu C r C Sw '-..-"' third Of the state's eleetorate, Dole Republican Cov. Jim Edgar. nut University political scientist CUll Cleveland, Akron and Toledo areas the eyes or one state COP leader. Zukln warned: ''The same people about Clinton pushing throu11h the trolled Clinton by 18% in the surJgar "has tremendous popularity who arc Slipped by C!c:Onomlc un-North American Free Trade vey. 1t no ctouL" Dole Ia presumed to certainty arc the people who worry Agreement and stgning the wetral'l! Madonna said: "Pennsylvanians 1ve narrowed the nearly 2070 lead that when Dole talks about setr-rcrorm bill. These Democrats might hove trouble conceptunllzlng jlboUt linton enjoyed tn the most rocent reliance, he means 'We arc not vent their anger by not voUng. eampalllft promises. But they do 1lls, but even Republican WU-goin!r to help you.'" Dole needs to win over suburban know about performance. and from lmson conceded that Clinton has Ohio (21 electoral votes): Four Ohio swtng voters. ''These people observing Clinton's performance, be ravored In the st.1te. years ago, traditionally are concerned aboutthe tax burden, they are reasonably happy." eM.ichigan (18 electoral votes): ole trailed by about 10 poinL1 1 r : atewide in a poll conducted by arpolus just artcr the COl' con ention in San A particularly :'OIIblesome aspect or the survey ll' Dole is that In the lletroit uburb or Macomb County; which tush carried in 1992 even :1.1 he la.1t he state, Dole tr:Jilcd Clinton by a tefly margin. For Dole to win U.e stale, Sarpo us aaid, he must start generaUng mthusiasm among Macomb's bluc:ollar ethnic voters for his tax-cut li'Opos;Jl. New Jersey (15 electoral otes I: This slate's suburban voters !Ve Reagan and Dush healthy majorities all through the 1980s. Clinton's narrow win here In 1992 LAST DAY Monday, September 2. "' ,. ... jim" '"r ...... rm """s"lll mi.lltli:r.l' mui.Jloflr mrmJII/30% to 70% off. p I u s N 0 TAX 0111111 ilrms thtll 111'1' IWI stilt T!ti. t offrr t!ors ""' prn:irJII.' {'lln!JrJ.I'I'. Sll!llnltzt, 11111/ r..i/1 f'IIJ' thrIll.\'. R I Z 0 N 64 of Contempornry Fu,..,.iture. ;.tl.'i!i . V.V
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APPENDIX B iELES nP.U: .. WEDNESDAY, SEI'IEMIIER 18. 19911" National Perspective Not to Blame for Rise in Teen Drug Use, Experts Say 'DIIUcs: They agrw he ld have l:lclm moll! forceful 1pposi1ion. MOSI believe ltnllional forgening' is !he :f culpril for !rend. >AVID G. SAVAGE n 'ASJJJNCTON-Cnft'IU'amtltUdies faund that I he '*Cif illqal dnJI'.Io e.allr raarijl.ana. rw rixn aJwpJr In '1Uittuft )'nt:s. an taut R.rpublican tdtnlW CIDdidat.e Ball ham ed a. on the camp;litn uail Jl doe!! Bill Cbntondftei'Vt lhe wforincrraJingdrul U.le'iiJQOIIB' aM npm.tondrur .abuse uy Mdtft allbuugb they agrft' lhal Cli.ntDn hat 'IS to speatr. ouug:Dnn druB ab&tse lhr laDle fervor be h&t dincted rutcipmtcs. lhinlr. il"acbtapshotandalrnart lu ')u:!toaay .lr.i4s:are ll!lnldrup bele-Of whal the did or didn'l "'saldEnIblllllldnl!r-allh
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---.Media Monitor. Washington: Center for Media and Public Affairs, Nov.-Dec. I996. Lichter, S. Robert and Richard E. Noyes. Good Intentions Make Bad News: Why Americans Hate Campaign Journalism. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, I996. McCubbins, Mathew D. "Party Decline and Presidential Campaigns in the Television Age." Under the Watchful Eye: Managing Presidential Campaigns in the Television Era. Ed. Mathew D. McCubbins. Washington: Congressional Quarterly Press, I992: 9-57. McWilliams, Wilson Carey. The Politics of Disappointment: American Elections I976-94. Chatham: Chatham House Publishers, I995. Nagoumey, Adam. "Give-and-Take Forums a New Tack for Dole." The Denver Post II Oct. I996: SA (Originally published by New York Times) Patterson, Thomas E. The Mass Media Election: How Americans Choose Their President. New York: Praeger Publishers, I980. Out of Order. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., I993. Polsby, Nelson W. And Aaron Wildavsky. Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics. Chatham: Chatham House Publishers, I996. Sabato, Larry J. "Open Season: How the News Media Cover Presidential Campaigns in the Age of Attack Journalism." Under the Watchful Eye: Managing Presidential Campaigns in the Television Era. Ed. Mathew D. McCubbins. Washington: Congressional Quarterly Press, I992: I27-I5I. Shogren, Elizabeth and Jonathan Peterson. "Dole Again Touts Plan to Cut Income Tax Rates IS%." Los Angeles Times 25 Sept. I996: A4. Stempel, Guido H. ill and John W. Windhauser. The Media in the I984 and I988 Presidential Elections. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1991. 67