Presidency paper

Presidency paper - Wharton 1 The President's Personal Life:...

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Wharton 1 The President's Personal Life: Shift from Private to Public Matt Wharton POL 314 – Dr. Ackroyd
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A President's Personal Life: Shift from Private to Public The office of the presidency is one of the most visible and, arguably, most powerful elected positions in the world . Presidents have been dealing with the news media and citizenry ever since George Washington took office . During the election of 1800, the press was extremely partisan, and “delighted in personal attacks on political figures, including allegations that Thomas Jefferson attempted to seduce a neighbor’s wife and kept a slave as a concubine” (Farnsworth & Lichter 108) . Since the election of 1800, it had been taboo for the media to delve into the personal life of the sitting president . The focus on the personal life of a president shifted from private to public following the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal . Topics that did not have political implications were completely left out of the media . Political scientist Larry Sabato described this obedience and “relative absence of coverage of nonofficial matters as ‘lapdog . Before the Vietnam War and Watergate, there were many instances of the media looking the other way to let presidents deal with controversy in private . Such cover-ups include President Lincoln’s stint with smallpox in 1863, Woodrow Wilson’s mental incapacity that followed his 1919 stroke, and Warren G . Harding’s philandering in the White House . Some of these situations could have had major political repercussions, but the media neglected to report them . In today’s society, if the president momentarily chokes on a pretzel, it is headline news .
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There has been an obvious paradigm shift in the way the news media reports on the office of the presidency . The personal life of the modern president has undergone a significant shift from private to public due to the relationship between the presidency and the media, the nature of modern elections, and the feeling of intimacy between the general public and the president . The modern day president has a personal life that is more public than some of his predecessors because of the relationship between the White House and the news media . Today, there is a symbiotic relationship between the presidency and the media . This mutual love/hate relationship is extremely important in today’s society . Stephen Ponder describes this relationship in his book, Managing the Press -“To some extent, all presidents since George Washington have relied on the press to inform the country about the workings of public policy” (Ponder xii) . Furthermore, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Papers 84 that “The public papers will be expeditious messengers of intelligence to the most remote inhabitants of the Union” . The role of the press was seen by early presidents as “too important to the survival of the new republic to be left
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Presidency paper - Wharton 1 The President's Personal Life:...

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