The presidents vs. the press : the endless battle between the White House and the media -- from the founding fathers to fake news

by Holzer, Harold,

Format: Print Book 2020
Availability: Available at 7 Libraries 7 of 10 copies
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Brentwood Library Nonfiction 070.449 Holzer
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CLP - Squirrel Hill New Books JK554.H65 2020
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Northland Public Library Nonfiction 070.449 H74
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An award-winning presidential historian offers an authoritative account of American presidents' attacks on our freedom of the press.

"The FAKE NEWS media," Donald Trump has tweeted, "is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" Has our free press ever faced as great a threat? Perhaps not--but the tension between presidents and journalists is as old as the republic itself.

Every president has been convinced of his own honesty and transparency; every reporter who has covered the White House beat has believed with equal fervency that his or her journalistic rigor protects the country from danger. Our first president, George Washington, was also the first to grouse about his treatment in the newspapers, although he kept his complaints private. Subsequent chiefs like John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Barack Obama were not so reticent, going so far as to wield executive power to overturn press freedoms, and even to prosecute journalists.

Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to actively manage the stable of reporters who followed him, doling out information, steering coverage, and squashing stories that interfered with his agenda. It was a strategy that galvanized TR's public support, but the lesson was lost on Woodrow Wilson, who never accepted reporters into his inner circle. Franklin Roosevelt transformed media relations forever, holding more than a thousand presidential press conferences and harnessing the new power of radio, at times bypassing the press altogether. John F. Kennedy excelled on television and charmed reporters to hide his personal life, while Richard Nixon was the first to cast the press as a public enemy. From the days of newsprint and pamphlets to the rise of Facebook and Twitter, each president has harnessed the media, whether intentional or not, to imprint his own character on the office.

In this remarkable new history, acclaimed scholar Harold Holzer examines the dual rise of the American presidency and the media that shaped it. From Washington to Trump, he chronicles the disputes and distrust between these core institutions that define the United States of America, revealing that the essence of their confrontation is built into the fabric of the nation.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "From the beginning of the U.S. presidency the holder of that office and the press have been at loggerheads, leading to complaints about unfair press coverage, attempts to circumvent the press and go straight to the voters, and battles to keep private life private. Drawing on his experience as a reporter and political press secretary, Holzer argues that while the dynamics between the president and the press have not changed, the technologies involved are enormously different. In this chronology of tensions, Holzer begins with the founding era when both the president and the press began to forge their roles, through the Civil War, the Great Depression, the Vietnam war, and beyond, highlighting the conflicts of George Washington,Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, both George H.W. and George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Holzer examines how personality and the prevailing issues and technology of their presidencies shaped press relationships. While this fascinating book doesn't ease the pain and anxiety of witnessing the elevated battle between Trump and reporters, it does provide an essential historical perspective."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Historian Holzer (Monument Man) documents the tensions between U.S. presidents and the press in this colorful but underwhelming survey. Starting with George Washington and his fellow founding fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, then skipping ahead to Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt, before concluding with a rundown of every modern president from Kennedy through Trump, Holzer aims to "alert readers to historical traditions, original principles, and ominous trends." He describes Washington's battles with the journalist grandson of Benjamin Franklin; cites examples of FDR's "manipulative charm" during press briefings, including the time he told a reporter inquiring about a potential third term to "put on your dunce cap and stand with your back to the crowd"; and notes Obama's controversial use of the 1917 Espionage Act to jail reporters' sources and stem the tide of intelligence community leaks. Evidence of Trump's love-hate relationship with the press includes extensive TV coverage of his 2016 campaign rallies and the president's "tweetstorms" attacking mainstream media as allegations of the Ukraine pressure campaign circulated. Holzer provides vivid historical vignettes, but little analysis of how the current moment compares to 18th- and 19th-century precedents. Readers will be more entertained than enlightened. (May)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Presidents -- Press coverage -- United States -- History.
Press and politics -- United States -- History.
Mass media -- Political aspects -- United States -- History.
Publisher [New York, New York] :2020
Other Titles Presidents versus the press
Language English
Description xx, 554 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 449-540) and index.
ISBN 9781524745264
Other Classic View