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 TITL Er e Foreign Policy Hews in the 1980 Presidential
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U DEPARTMENT Of EDUCATION,NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION. INFORMATION,EOUCATIONAL RESOURCES,CENTER ERIC,been reproduced as. I This document has,received from the person or organization. originating n,thtinot changes have been made to income. reproduction quaky,view or opinions stated in,represent official NIE.
Pc ment do not necessarily,position or poky, Foreign Policy News in the 1980 Presidential Election Campaign. James Glen Stovall,Assistant Professor,Department of Journalism. University of Alabama,PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE THIS. MATERIAL HAS BEEN GRANTED BY,James Glen Stovall,TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES. INFORMATION CENTER ERIC, Paper prepared for presentation to the Political Communication Division of the.
annual convention of the International Communications Association Boston MA. May 2 5 1982, Democracies Alexis de Tocqueville said in the 1830s are particularly. unsuited to forming and maintaining foreign policies Foreign politics demand. scarcely any of those qualities which are peculiar to democracy they require. on the contrary the perfett use of almost all those in which it is. he wrote 7oreign policies need careful and secret formulation efficient. execution and patience in waiting for results After his penetrating look at. the American political and socidl system the French sociologist found little. that recommended democrabies in dealing with global problems He decried the. propensity that induces democracies to obey impulse rather than prudence and to. abandon a mature design for the gratification of a momentary passion. If democracies are indeed unsuitable for formulating consistent foreign. policies it follows that presidential election campaigns are not the best forums. on which to discuss the nation s foreign policy The tendency toward obedience. during the heat of, to impulse and gratification of passion is particularly strong. Incumbent presidential candidates are put in,a presidential election campaign. the position of defending their policies without revealing all that could or. should be revealed about them and without offending their foreign counterparts. Challengers often criticize foreign policy decisions without having full knowledge. about the decisions and without called upon to implement a policy of their. Yeti discussion of foreign policy issues can often be decisive in a campaign. Dwight Eisenhower played on America s frustration with the war in Korea in 1952. by pledging that he would do something about it that he would go to Korea. Gerald Ford s highly ill conceived remark that there was no Soviet domination cf. Eastern Europe interrupted his comeback against Jimmy Carter and in the eyes of. many lost the election for him, At times of course the role played by foreign affairs in a political. campaign gOes far beyond the dicussion of policies Events themselves can intrude. on the process The alleged attack on American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin in. 1964 the trips of President Nixon to China and the Soviet Union in 1972 an the. takeover of the American embassy in Teheran and the holding of American hostages. in 1980 are alew of the many instances where foreign affairs events have had home. impact on the nation s presidential campaign, Consequently despite the supposed unsuitability of the topic in general.
foreign affairs and foreign policies are often major topics of discussion during. a presidential campaign De Toequeville and others to the contrary there are. good reasons why this should occur Every four years Americans elect among other. things the nation s Chief Diplcmat and the Commander in Chief of its armed forces. The person whom they select has a wide variety of problems to face and policy. options to pursue He is the leader of the free world the commander of a vast. and far flung military force and the first among the diplomatic corps He must. decide on the military s deployment weapon systems and maintenance he must deal. with vagaries of terrorism human rights and development and the hard realities of. trade agreements defense treaties and peace keeping. Given the scope and importance of the president s job the electorate might. expect during the campaign a fairly thorough examination of the abilities and. policies of those running for the office Rarely does this quality of discussion. occur however While certain foreign policy issues may make much news during the. campaign candidates are rarely asked about policies or proposals which do not have. some sort of news angle The reasons for this lack of examination are numerous. There are few major differences between the two major parties on most. TOreign policy issues While the parties may differ on certain aspects of foreign. policy or defense neither questions the need fora strong defense peace or good. relations with a1Iies, Incumbent candidates for president may be reluctant to discuss foreign. policy matters which have not produced some visible and positive conclusions Such. discussion might upset negotiations or strain relations with the principals. involved Thus while Richard Nixon in 1972 could concentrate on detente and the. opening of China Jimmy Carter in 1980 could say little about the development of. relations with black African nations, Challenging presidential candidates often lack knowledge and experience in. foreign affairs They may be reluctant to talk about foreign policy for fear of. being labeled either too tough or too soft with the nation s adversaries or they. may fear being countered with facts from the government which make the challengers. seem unknowledgeable Above all they do not want to be seen as shooting from. the hip as Ilarry GoldWater was in 1964, The public rarely demands an extensive accounting of foreign policy stances. from candidates Again particular issues may become salient with many voters. but broader policiea ite not likely to stir a lot of public interest during an. election campaign, Finally journalists who cover the campaign are usually political reporters. not foreign policy correspondents They may lack the knowledge inclination and. time to demand from candidates a thorough airing of their foreign policy proposals. Despite these obstacles presidential campaigns rarely conclude witbaut some. discussion of foreign policy issues although the issues discussed may be trivial. and their treatment superficial This study examines the role and some of the. dimensions of that role which foreignpolicy 4ssues played in the news reports. of 1980 presidential election campaign,Review of the literature.
Poisby and Wildaysky in their classic volume Presidential Elections noted. that Republicans generally have the advantage when affairs issues are. The GOP is seen as the party of peace while,raised in a presidential campaign. there has been a war Conse,the Democrats have most often been in power when. made sufficiently important to,quently if foreign affairs issues can be. of winning Republicans, enough voters the Republicans stand a better chance. playing on the fear that, generally do best by building up foreign affairs and.
If the authors are correct we,Democrats are not competent in this field 4. raising most of the foreign, would reasonably expect to find that Republicans are. affairs issues in the campaign,great temptation exists for. On the other hind Hargrove maintains that a,problems in their appeals. presidents to emphasize foreign affairs over domestic. 1980 we way then, to public opinion 5 Since Jimmy Carter was the incumbent in.
from him more often than from his,find that foreign affairs news was coming. opponents t,election cam, The amount of foreigniaffairs issue coverage in presidential. for researAers Markham and,paigns has been a matter of continuous attention. coverage in 24 Pennsylvania,Stempel in a study of the 1956 election campaign. about the campaign dealt with defense,fbund that 39 6 percent of all news reports.
6 other issues,Graber noted that foreign policy led all. or foreign affairs issues,of news reports and editorials devoted. in the 1968 campaign with some 30 percent,news reports and editorials. to it in 1972 however the amount of foreign policy. place behind campaign and domestic,had dropped to 17 percent and was in third. issues for editors during, Foreign affairs issues have been generally s lient.
editorials in, presidential election campaigns In a study of election campaign. Myers fcund that an average of 35 3,10 major newspapers during the 1964 campaign. That general trend held for the,percent were devoted to foreign affairs topics. of 35 9 in 1968 30 0 in 1972 and,next three election campaigns with percentages 8. percentage increased to 42 7,32 4 in 1976 In the 1980 campaign however that.
handled foreign affairs, Morris in critiquing the way reporters and editors. and news magazines, news in the 1976 campaign found in a spot check of newspapers. of the coverage given, that foreign affairs issues were getting roughly 10 percent. afflict foreign, to domestic issues He went on to outline three diseases which. campaigns world affairs aphasia where,affairs reporting during presidential.
president only after the, foreign policy becomes important to the press and the. affairs issues discussed, election the Quemoy Matsu syndrome in which the foreign. disappear soon after the, in election campaigns are relatively unimportant and. blindness to the largely, campaign and mogul myopia which is the journalistic. under any president, annonymous elite who are likely to run foreign policy.
foreign affairs news, Another factor which helps determine the coverage that. nature of the issued that are, gets during a presidential election campaign is the. lass Media Election discusses the tendency,presented Patterson in his book The. diffuse issues as opposed to journalists preference. Sor candidates to prefer, for rclear cut issues Because candidates must build coalitions from. emphasize issues on which, political elements in order to win elections they often.
with their opponents, there is broad agreement even to the point of agreeing. clear difference between, Journalists however like the issues on which there is a. determine the course of the campaign,the candidates and which are likely to. such issues when they, Candidates themselves are not totally adverse to raising. believe they can score some political advantage,affairs issues in presi.
These research findings and critiques on foreign,research questions about the. dential election campaigns lead us to the following. devoted to discussion of foreign,1980 election How much of the campaign was. affairs ussues Which candidates benefitted in terms of news coverage. iss les were the most salient for,foreign policy news and which foreign policy. issues By whom were these issues,the candidates What was the nature of these. editors consider the, initiated What foreign affairs issues did reporters and.
most and the least newsworthy,Methodology,of coverage of the 1980. The findings presented here are based on a survey,The sample of newspapers. presidential election campaign in 50 daily newspapers. and came from the 1979 Editor and,was selected randomly based on circulation. Publisher Yearbook The sample included newspapers from every region in. wide variety oftirculation sizes,country including Alaska and Hawaii and with a. Fourche S D Post c 3335, from the Los Angeles Times c 1 018 490 to the Belle.
of the general, Each issue of each newspaper was coded for the entire peiod. News events only were coded,election campaign from September 2 to November 4. and Adams was used, The definition of a news event formulated by Danielson. placement in the paper, Included in this coding were the news event s length. and source of story,headline size number of pictures size of pictures.
commentaries columns and letters to the editor,Analyses profiles editorials. ware not included in this analysis,for the campaign These. This coding produced a list of 757 news events,and non party events. events were then divided into two major categories party. of the candidates or parties,Party events were those whose source was one. related to the campaign in a,involved in the campaign or whose subject matter.
not one of the, partisan way Non party events were those whose source was. and whose subject matter was not,candidates or parties involved in the campaign. campaign events and, The party events were then divided into two groups. thrust of the, issues events Campaign events were those in which the major. candidate s prediction of the outcome,story was thecampaign itself i e a.
about the candidate s or his,criticism of an opponent s tactics comments. categories, opponent s character etc Issues events were divided into three. governmental programs designed,economic stories about taxes inflation and any. domestic stories dealing with non economic,to affect the general economy. non foreign affairs defense subject i e governmental programs such as social. security foreign affairs any stories aboutdiplomacy treaties defense. relationships with allies or adversaries etc, The non party events were divided into five groups national polls state.
polls other polls debates those not included in the party stories and. miscellaneous, The breakdown of the events in this way can be seen in Table I Stories. about the campaign itself clearly dominated the news coverage of the 1980. presidential campaign Campaign events which came from party sources made up. more than half of all of the events there were twice as many campaign events. of this type than issues events Candidates and journalists were more interested. in talking about the campaign itself than about the issues raised in the campaign. The dominance of the campaign as the major subject of news increases when. the non party stories are considered Added to the campaign events these events. outnumber issues events three to one National polls alone accounted for nearly. 10 percent of the news stories about the campaign and all the poll stories to. gether made up nearly 15 percent of the news stories about the campaign. Foreign affairs issues, Foreign affairs news was relatively impoitant to both candidates and journa. lists in the 1980 presidential election campaign Foreign affairs subjects were. the major themes of 15 percent of all the news events during the campaign. See Table I This figure is almost twice that of news events focusing primarily. on domestic issues Since most of these events were generated by the candidates. or their surrogates it is clear that after the issues of the campaign itself. foreign policy waS the dominant substantive issue of the campaign. Such a finding is not surprising The 1980 presidential campaign was over. shadowed by the fact that 53 Americans were being held hostage in Iran Numerous. News Events of the 1980 Presidential Eifttion Campaign. Number of of total,PARTY EVENTS events,Campaign events. Comments about opponents,Comments about the Campaign. Endorsements,Issues events,Foreign affairs,NON PARTY EVENTS.
National polls,State polls,Other polls,Other non party events. foreign policy issues such as America s relations with Taiwaa and China the. future of the NATO alliance the stalled SALT negotiations with the Soviet Union. and the leak of information on the Stealih airplane were raised throughout the. campaign 1980 also saw the unusual campaign tactic of an incumbent president. trying to use foreign polity issues against a challenger Jimmy Carter attempted. to paint Ronald Reagan as trigger happy a tactic which was not without precedent. but dangerous just as well The tactic did not work for Carter as it had for. Lyndon Johnson in 1964 against Barry Goldwater and many within and without the. campaigns felt that in raising this issue Carter squandered what little good feel. ing many people had for him The way in which some of these issues were novered. will be examined later itthis paper, Foreign policy news was somewhat more beneficial in terms of newspaper. the Reptblicans, coverage to the pemocrats in the 1980 presidential election than. but not by much The campaign contained 48 events generated by the Democrats two. fewer than the number produced by Republicans See Table II The Democratic. events were run in more newspapers were given more space in those newspapers. generally had larger headlinesthan Republicans events The GOP generated. however made the front pages more than those of the Democrats and were more. likely to have pictures attached to them The big loser in foreign affairs coverag. No one in that, was Independent John Anderson and the members of his campaign. campaign except the presidential candidate himself produced a piece of. affairs news during the campaign The evidence is ample here and elsewhere that. journalists were more interested in the Anderson campaign as a political pheno. menon than as a source for ideas on campaign issues. One of the remarkable aspects of this analysis is the equality of the coverag. of the foreign policy news events generated by the two major party presidential. candidates See Table III While Carter s 22 events Jere somewhat more likely. to appear in more newspapers than Reagan s 23 events the average length of. by Political Parties, Comparison of Coverage Given to Foreign Policy News Generated.
Republicians indenendent,50 events 16 events,Average number of newspapers to 7 7. carry each event,436 6 words 388 5 words,Average length of each story. 18 76 21 3,Front page,81 24 7e 77,Inside page,Headline size. Greater than two columns,Two columns or smaller,Total number of pictures. 22 5 sq in 22 2 sq in,Average size of pictures,by the Independents came from the.
The only foreign policy news generated in the,Those figures are presented. presidential candidate John Anderson,following table. Comparison of Coverage Gii en to Foreign Policy News Generated by the 1980. Presidential Candidates,Carter Reagan Anderson,22 events 23 events 16 events. Average number of newspapers,20 5 16 3 6 75,to carry each eve nt. 428 words 429 5 words 316 words,Average length of stories.
33 1 35 7 10 2,Front page,66 9 64 3 89 3,Inside page. Headline size,Greater than two columns 62 1 58 1 57 2. 37 9 41 97 42 8,To columns or smaller,J 38 140 17,Total number of pictures. 23 5 sq in 16 2 sq in,Average size of pictures 26 5 sq in. is almost identical So is the number of picturds each received in connection. with these events Reiqn sstories were somewhii more likely to appear on page 1. but Carter s stories were more likely to have larger headlines and the average. size of his pictures was greater Anderson s 16 events were a distant third in. every category of coverage included in this analysis except headline size. Anderson at least got as mucp from the nation s layout edit rs as Carter and Reagan. Coverage of the foreign poly events generated by the vice presidential. candidates of the major parties shows much the same pattern as that given to the. presidentik candidates The comments of Vice President Mondale were more likely. to be carried in newspapers and more likely to have larger headlines but those of. George Bush were more likely to appear on page 1 apd had larger photos connected. to them Democratic surrogates events received much longer stories in a few more. newspapers than those of Republican Other differ nees in coverage of these events. are fairly minor See Table IV,Major foreign policy Q Mes.
In order to get a better idea about the dynamics of foreign policy news. coverage and the way in which it was integrated into the election campaign we. must turn our attention to the major foreign policy issues which dominated the. campaign Four such issues generated more news events than any others They. Iran hostages 27 events The hostage crisis lasted during the entire. campaign This issue intensified toward the end of the campaign as the Iranian. parliament made some movement toward freeing the 52 American hostages. Stealth 18 events The public disclosure that the U S was developing an. airplane invisible to radar caused some controversy early in the ampaign. SALT II negotiations 13 events This event showed a clear difference of. opinion between the two major candidates Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter Reagan. advocated renegotiation of the SALT II treaty while Carter vowed to press ahead. Coverage Given to Foreign Policy News Events Generated by Vice Presidential. Candidates and Party Surrogates,Mondale Bush Democratic Republican. 9 events 7 events surrogates surrogates,17 events 19 events. Ailerage number of newspapers ill,4 4 2 7 4 5,to carry each event. Average length of story 344,380 392 502,10 5 15 9 17 6. Front Page 7 3,89 3 84 1 82 4,Inside page 92 6,Headline size.
29 5 45 4 41 3,Greater than two columns 46,Two columns or smaller 54 70 5. Total number of pictures 10,Average size of pictures 21.


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