Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Author Oxford University Press, USA $27.5 (352p) ISBN 978-0-19-507854-1
Packed with examples of superficial or sleazy campaigning from the last three decades, this study presents a disturbing picture of the dismal state of U.S. presidential campaigns, and how to change them. Jamieson ( Packaging the Presidency ) convincingly argues that television news about electoral contests is becoming increasingly ad-like. Conversely, she maintains, candidates are learning to act, speak and think in TV's terms, proffering visual, telegraphic sound bites and tailoring their speeches, interviews and press conferences toward getting ad-like coverage. Dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communication, Jamieson delivers stinging barbs as she moves from the 1960s (``Kennedy and Johnson entranced the public with a shell game'') to an extended analysis of Bush's Willie Horton ads and David Duke's campaign. Illustrated with stills from TV ads, her critique is marred by dense, academic prose, but her call for accurate, substantive reporting, and her insistence that candidates be held responsible for their promises, are worth heeding. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1992
Release date: 09/01/1992
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-19-508553-2
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