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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 3 Foreign affairs issues rise and fall on the national agenda, greatly influenced by a complex mix of events, factors, and various components of American political society. The end of the Cold War brought America’s place in the world into question, with Post- Cold War international events having raised questions at the heart of our understanding of foreign affairs. Agenda setting research may give insight as to the role the mass media, the public, and the president play in the development and execution of American foreign affairs policy, especially in light of post September 11, 2001 world events. BACKGROUND In a democratic society there is a widespread belief in a civic duty to keep informed. This is one of the reasons there is a large daily audience for television news and newspapers. Using a study designed around multiple media events, media coverage, general public opinion, and presidential public relations efforts, the relationships among them are explored. This work takes advantage of the unique dynamic that has come into play regarding U.S. foreign affairs with the of the end of the Cold War, examining whether coverage of foreign policy issues by the three major network evening newscasts, an elite American newspaper, and presidential public relations efforts has influenced trends in American public opinion on the topic. U.S. Foreign Affairs. Examining the potential influence or interaction of the media, public opinion, and the public relations efforts of the president, on American foreign policy reveals much about the give and take of democracy. It has been argued that the extent of the news media’s influence over American foreign policy often depends on the caliber of political leadership (Seib, 1997). When a president clearly and forcefully defines a general world view, as well as specific goals and strategies, the impact of news coverage on policymaking is minimized. On the other hand, when an administration’s foreign policy is ill-defined or unrealistic, news coverage has greater impact. Moreover,

Authors: Mitrook, Michael.
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background image
Presidential PR efforts and Foreign Policy
3
Foreign affairs issues rise and fall on the national agenda, greatly influenced by a
complex mix of events, factors, and various components of American political society.
The end of the Cold War brought America’s place in the world into question, with Post-
Cold War international events having raised questions at the heart of our understanding of
foreign affairs. Agenda setting research may give insight as to the role the mass media,
the public, and the president play in the development and execution of American foreign
affairs policy, especially in light of post September 11, 2001 world events.
BACKGROUND
In a democratic society there is a widespread belief in a civic duty to keep
informed. This is one of the reasons there is a large daily audience for television news
and newspapers. Using a study designed around multiple media events, media coverage,
general public opinion, and presidential public relations efforts, the relationships among
them are explored.
This work takes advantage of the unique dynamic that has come into play
regarding U.S. foreign affairs with the of the end of the Cold War, examining whether
coverage of foreign policy issues by the three major network evening newscasts, an elite
American newspaper, and presidential public relations efforts has influenced trends in
American public opinion on the topic.
U.S. Foreign Affairs. Examining the potential influence or interaction of the media,
public opinion, and the public relations efforts of the president, on American foreign
policy reveals much about the give and take of democracy. It has been argued that the
extent of the news media’s influence over American foreign policy often depends on the
caliber of political leadership (Seib, 1997). When a president clearly and forcefully
defines a general world view, as well as specific goals and strategies, the impact of news
coverage on policymaking is minimized. On the other hand, when an administration’s
foreign policy is ill-defined or unrealistic, news coverage has greater impact. Moreover,


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