“Managing The Presidents Message: The White House Communications Operation” by Martha Joynt Kumar


No matter who they are, or what political party they belong to, there is always something fascinating about the stories presidential press secretaries have to share.  I am biased in my point of view given that I have a high degree of interest in how any White House manages the flow of news, and attempts to spin the story.  Also, I have a deep appreciation for the journalists who cover the President, and try to understand the facts and inform the nation.

I mention this after a friend sent me a link to a new book that looks like one I will much enjoy.  “Managing The Presidents Message: The White House Communications Operation” by Martha Joynt Kumar analyses the past four presidents in terms of their media and communications operations.  Some might think this to be dry and boring until you recall President Bush generated a needless war in part from such operations.  In addition to the present operations of the press operation, she also reviews the past attempts by those who sat in the Oval Office to manage the news.

I found this link today online and it also provides background for the book.

The assassinations of presidents James Garfield and William McKinley made the media realize it would lose out on page one stories unless it had representatives attached continually to the president. And early press secretaries tended to be former news reporters, who spoke the language of the covering media. Teddy Roosevelt was known for off-the-record press briefings, a tradition most presidents have continued.

The practice of presidential presentation of the State of the Union address to Congress began with John Quincy Adams but was discontinued until Woodrow Wilson picked it up; it’s been continued by each succeeding president. Wilson also created the Committee on Public Information, creating the foundation for the modern White House press office. President Coolidge delivered the first State of the Union address over radio, a development owing more to technology than personality.

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