cover image Talking Politics: Choosing the President in the Television Age

Talking Politics: Choosing the President in the Television Age

Liz Cunningham. Praeger Publishers, $27.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-275-94187-1

Freelance journalist Cunningham here sets out to determine the influence of TV on the election of the U.S. president and interviews a number of luminaries for their opinions, including Robert MacNeil, Linda Ellerbee, Larry King, Pierre Salinger and Tom Brokaw. Ellerbee and Salinger come across as the most perceptive of her interviewees, the former commenting that politicians don't care whether they are good or bad so long as they are perceived as being good. Strong opinions pepper the work, such as Ellerbee's ``The Ross Perots of the world--that's how you get Hitlers.'' Some of Cunningham's subjects suffer from being asked tangential questions, as when CNN anchor Bernard Shaw is queried, ``What do you say to the criticism that we are too emotional about our presidents, that we should choose...[them] more along the lines of their stances on specific issues?'' Others she sometimes allows to ride their hobbyhorses; the news director of MTV suggests that the Bush-Quayle snubbing of his station probably cost the ticket the 1992 election. A probing glimpse at a process irrevocably changed by the tube. Photos not seen by PW. (May)