The Contemporary Presidency: The Return of the Honeymoon: Television News Coverage of New Presidents, 1981-2009

Authors

  • STEPHEN J. FARNSWORTH,

    Corresponding author
    1. George Mason University
      Stephen J. Farnsworth is an associate professor of communication at George Mason University and is the author or coauthor of four books on media and politics. He is also a former daily newspaper journalist.
      S. Robert Lichter is a professor of communication at George Mason University, where he also directs the Center for Media and Public Affairs and the Statistical Assessment Service. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books and articles on media and politics.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • S. ROBERT LICHTER

    Corresponding author
    1. George Mason University
      Stephen J. Farnsworth is an associate professor of communication at George Mason University and is the author or coauthor of four books on media and politics. He is also a former daily newspaper journalist.
      S. Robert Lichter is a professor of communication at George Mason University, where he also directs the Center for Media and Public Affairs and the Statistical Assessment Service. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books and articles on media and politics.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • AUTHORS' NOTE: We thank Dan Amundson of the Center for Media and Public Affairs for his extraordinary research assistance and to the Council for Excellence in Government and George Mason University for financial support. Thanks also to the reviewers and editors of Presidential Studies Quarterly.

Stephen J. Farnsworth is an associate professor of communication at George Mason University and is the author or coauthor of four books on media and politics. He is also a former daily newspaper journalist.
S. Robert Lichter is a professor of communication at George Mason University, where he also directs the Center for Media and Public Affairs and the Statistical Assessment Service. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books and articles on media and politics.

Abstract

Content analysis of network evening news coverage during the first year of the Barack Obama presidency revealed coverage that was far more positive in tone than comparable news reports from the first years of the Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush presidencies. Both domestic and international policy evaluations of the Obama presidency were more positive in tone than those of the last three presidents to take office during partisan transfers of power. The findings reveal a revival of the media honeymoon that scholars thought had disappeared during the modern era of a more combative press. An investigation of the “beat sweetening” hypothesis reveals mixed results, suggesting the need for further investigation.

Ancillary