Presidential Politics and Television October 2, 1977

Roger Mudd, October 2, 1977

“The U.S. presidency is trapped under an avalanche of expectations generated by television news. The press has played a major role in the magnification of the powers and importance of the executive branch beyond its role of one important gear in an exceedingly complex machine.

“Vietnam-era presidents equated popularity poll gains following televised press conference with support for their position. These gains were a function of the facility with which presidents used the media- and the absence of alternatives and opposition views present such conferences.

“The poor showing most congressmen seem to make on television results in a hampered congressional role of checking presidential power.

“Sanity-five percent of America’s voters rely on the three networks as their most reliable sauce of information in choosing their candidate. There are three, so that one can act as a tiebreaker. Many politicians seem to believe that what didn’t happen on television didn’t happen.”

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