ABSTRACT

From the 1988 presidential election at least one thing seems perfectly clear: that the major commercial networks have liuIe beuer idea how to cover and cope with today's video politics than they did du ring the Reagan years. Complicating the task of presidential campaign coverage was the vast superiority of the Republicans at the game of video politics. For the networks this too proved to be something of an embarrassment, for the Republicans succeeded once again by expioiting television's own vulnerabilities. The photo opportunities granted to the news media by

the Bush people were engineered with the same meticulous care as the Reagan handlers gave to his appearance at a D-day ceremony or to a Fourth of )uly visit to a stock car race. They showed a refurbished candidate, smiling and confident-no longer a wimp or a patrician. As during the Reagan campaigns, they served as an effective substitute for press conferences and interviews, du ring which the candidate might have been forced to elaborate on campaign promises and to explain away seeming inconsistencies between them.1