Eshbaugh-Soha in Understanding
the Public Presidency
Eshbaugh-Soha, Mathew. “The Public Presidency.” New Directions in the American Presidency,
by Lori Han, Routledge, 2011, pp. 54-70.
“The Public Presidency, Eshbaugh-Soha asks four
questions: “What is the public presidency?”, “What does new coverage of the presidency look like?”, “Are presidents successful in influencing news coverage?”, “And what
are the prospects for leadership in light of a changing media environment that
might accentuate, rather than ameliorate, existing constraints and limitations
on effective presidential communication?”. He breaks the problem down
into four main sections: the public
presidency, white house communications, the mediated
presidency, cable and other news. Through these four
parts, Eshbaugh-Soha answers his underlying questions.
begin with, the author defines presidential leadership as someone who speaks to
people about policies. The media is an essential factor in garnering public
support for presidential policies. Due to the end of the “golden age of
presidential television,” the president depends on more effective communication
strategies in modern media such as “journalistic interviews, informal exchanges
with reporters and daily speeches” for higher and more adequate exposure.
Advantages of modern media include radio shows and more which allow the president
to explain actions or situations that are heavily criticized while limiting contrary
journalistic interpretation by reaching the public through his voice.
To communicate effectively with the people, the White House
has a team dedicated to that task. The Office of Communications and the Press Office
are the two main groups responsible for foreseeing that the president’s goals are
achieved. The Office of Communications persuades the media by trying to get
them to write about what the president wants the people to hear. They attempt
to block out the negative aspects of the president. The Press Office conveys
the president’s ideas to the media without the president having to be present. Both
Offices try to present the president in a right personal image. Even though
these teams are made to handle the media, the outcome is less than desirable.
Next, the media sees the president’s policies as that of
the government’s. The president conveys an abundant amount of policies, but the
media reports a select few. The media reports the policies in which will stir
up the most controversy. The media tends to focus more on the entertaining or
scandalous aspects of the president, voiding the policies itself from being
heard. This supports the idea that people seek out entertainment in everything.
The president tries to focus on larger cities because the news from them
spreads quickly. Despite the president’s efforts, people are staunch supporters
of a vis-a-vis policy. They are not accepting of the policies that the president
tries to convey. Contrary, the president focuses on smaller cities with physical
appearances as those people tend to sway the most.
In addition to, the news gets the least amount of views
on Friday. In response to this, the White House usually reports their “bad”
news on this day to limit the amount of negativity they would receive. Eshbaugh-Soha
states that the new media is ineffective in getting the youth to participate in
politics. He says that to influence the youth, the media would have to
broadcast on late night TV or MTV. Despite this, the youth cannot be forced to