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A Longitudinal Time Series Analysis of the Foreign Affairs Issue: Agendas of the President, the Media, the Public
Unformatted Document Text:  Presidential PR efforts and Foreign Policy 22 In addition, the analysis supported the public opinion relationship with the president, though this relationship is weaker than the media and public opinion relationship. This shows that while the president does consider public opinion, it is not necessarily the best predictor of foreign relations policy. Hypotheses This study addresses three hypotheses about the roles played by the agendas of the media, the president, and public opinion with regard to the foreign policy issue. Each hypothesis is analyzed in turn. First, support was found for a two-way relationship occurring between the media agenda and public opinion. However, support was not found for the media-to-opinion relationship occurring with a shorter time lag than the opinion-to-media relationship. For this analysis, at least, it appears that public opinion precedes media, given the results of the cross-correlations. This is in support of Gonzenbach’s examination of the drug abuse issue with public opinion being the stronger driving factor in this relationship. This is not to say that all public opinion drives the media, just that the relationship is stronger in this direction while still allowing for a two- way process. This relationship of media and public opinion may have been influenced by the events occurring during the time period of the study. The Gulf War had the potential to change the way we typically categorize foreign policy events in changing the salience level from unobtrusive to obtrusive. When the individuals that make up the American public know of someone close to them, if they themselves are not directly involved in the conflict, that is involved in the event, they are more likely to influence the public opinion- to-media relationship more consistently. The second hypothesis deals with a two-way relationship occurring between the public relations agenda and public opinion, with the public relations-to-opinion relationship occurring with a shorter time lag that the opinion-to-public relations relationship. Support for this hypothesis was found, but it is interesting to note that

Authors: Mitrook, Michael.
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Presidential PR efforts and Foreign Policy
22
In addition, the analysis supported the public opinion relationship with the
president, though this relationship is weaker than the media and public opinion
relationship. This shows that while the president does consider public opinion, it is not
necessarily the best predictor of foreign relations policy.
Hypotheses
This study addresses three hypotheses about the roles played by the agendas of the
media, the president, and public opinion with regard to the foreign policy issue. Each
hypothesis is analyzed in turn. First, support was found for a two-way relationship
occurring between the media agenda and public opinion. However, support was not
found for the media-to-opinion relationship occurring with a shorter time lag than the
opinion-to-media relationship. For this analysis, at least, it appears that public opinion
precedes media, given the results of the cross-correlations. This is in support of
Gonzenbach’s examination of the drug abuse issue with public opinion being the stronger
driving factor in this relationship. This is not to say that all public opinion drives the
media, just that the relationship is stronger in this direction while still allowing for a two-
way process.
This relationship of media and public opinion may have been influenced by the
events occurring during the time period of the study. The Gulf War had the potential to
change the way we typically categorize foreign policy events in changing the salience
level from unobtrusive to obtrusive. When the individuals that make up the American
public know of someone close to them, if they themselves are not directly involved in the
conflict, that is involved in the event, they are more likely to influence the public opinion-
to-media relationship more consistently.
The second hypothesis deals with a two-way relationship occurring between the
public relations agenda and public opinion, with the public relations-to-opinion
relationship occurring with a shorter time lag that the opinion-to-public relations
relationship. Support for this hypothesis was found, but it is interesting to note that


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