Presidential Press Conferences over Time


Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha is Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University, 4348 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843 (


Scholars have debated whether the president's public activities are a function of political and economic factors (presidency-centered variables) or individual presidents and their administration's tendencies (president-centered variables). This article examines one of the only quantitative studies that assesses the influence of these variables on presidential press conferences over time. I replicate this study (Hager and Sullivan 1994) and find the authors' conclusions to be misleading. I then present methodologically correct analyses that show—consistent with the qualitative evidence—that the behavior of individual presidents offers the best explanation of press conferences over time.