The end of the 1990s saw increasing criticism of the media's treatment of the scandals in Washington. Critics complained that journalists either had not covered the political crisis well, that they had bungled it, or that they had simply blown it out of proportion. Some went so far as to call the situation Pressgate. As Hayden points out, however, the larger question remained: What was Clinton's overall relationship with the media?
Hayden examines presidential-press relationships in the 1990s, focusing first on the 1992 campaign, then on issues and events over Clinton's two terms. He analyzes the press response to the programs of the Clinton era as well as the scandals, the roles of consultants like James Carville, the effectiveness of various press secretaries, and the use of pollsters like Dick Morris. He also examines the fate of the First Amendment in the 1990s and how Clinton responded to freedom of expression concerns. This analysis will be of interest to media specialists as well as the general public concerned with contemporary Washington politics and journalism.
Introduction The Empathy Candidate and the Living Room Campaign First-Time Follies President Clinton and the First Amendment Campaign '96 The Road to Impeachment Surreality Legacy Bibliography Index
Reviews A quick read recapping the best--and worst--of the Clinton years, this book touches on many matters: the political and personal baggage Clinton carried into both his elections; his ability to court the new media; his hiring of a young and energetic (though not always competent) staff; surviving the Lewinsky scandal; his generating high job ratings and surviving dismal personal ones. Told through a handful of brief chapters that discuss topics such as Clinton's first term follies, his two campaigns, his impeachment, and his desire to have a favorable legacy, the book provides a picture of a scandal-prone politician who brought great intelligence, glib political skills, and dogged persistence to the White House. Throughout Hayden highlights the tensions Clinton experienced with both the old and new media: illustrative is a synopsis of the Clinton-Dole campaign that recounts the liberal bias of the media, a Dole who could not match Clinton in charisma, and the victory of an energetic, incumbent Clinton (albeit with a much lower margin of victory than had been predicted). The reader comes away with a picture of a president with an uncanny ability to connect with a portion of the US population, a man who often had shaky relations with the press. All collections.—Choice
If you find it fascinating to learn how Houdini managed to get himself into impossible situations and then magically managed to extract himself and escape to his next entanglement, this is your book.[W]hen Clinton and his publics pass on, the warmth of human relations will dissipate and the final verdict about the Clinton presidency will be rendered in the cold light of dispassionate scholarship. If that light focuses on Hayden's text, it will show a presidency marked by superb style and acrobatic political flexibility but short on principled actions and sorely lacking in lasting substantive political achievements.—Political Science Quarterly