Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Bruce Miroff

Abstract

The President is the most important political figure in the United States and as such he is a large topic in the news media. Despite seemly large changes in recent years with new media, an unprecedented presence in the White House, and shifts in the political nature of the nation, the press’s fundamental role in reporting on the Presidency has not changed in our democracy. Democracy needs a free press in order to have an informed citizenry and throughout American history this freedom has remained constant. A history of journalism and the presidency reveals that although the press has gone through enormous changes technologically and politically the fundamental relationship between the press and the presidency has been maintained. The press’s relationship with the presidency can be explained through a theory of characterizing presidents as either “open” or “closed” depending on the president’s decision when faced with the dilemma of whether to fulfill the desire to be effective versus the desire to preserve democratic values. This theory can be demonstrated with examples of case studies of both “open” and “closed” presidencies including FDR, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Ultimately, the presidency has evolved and shifted with presidents of different personalities and policy positions, and it has changed based on different political contexts in the country and the world, but the fundamental relationship between the press and the presidency is the same. The relationship between the press and the presidency is complicated and combative but the democratic notion of press freedom will always be valued in the United States.

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