The Power of the Media October 7, 1979

David Halberstam, October 7, 1979

“Television is dangerous; it has strengthened some institutions and weakened others. It has made society more volatile and far less structure.

“ The Pope and Ted Kennedy have the gift of theatre that makes them effective on television; it has given us a whole new kind of candidate. The coming of television ushered out the era of party system politics.

“ Americans know the government as slow, corroded, and awkward. They search for the nonpolitician who has style but not necessarily substance. One reason the president’s power has increased is that he can get on TV anytime he wants. With this unlimited exposure goes the danger that the people may get too much of him. The demented media hype raises expectations higher than capacity of government to fulfill them.

“TV has also come to determine what is news. Asking if a demonstration really happened if it is not covered b the media is akin to asking if a tree that falls in a forest with no one around makes a noise.

“Print is more important that even before. TV evaporates. A newspaper holds its turf. It becomes the daily menu.”

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