Chapter

Dragging the Truth into the Gutter? The News Media, Negativity, and the 1988 Campaign

John G. Geer

in In Defense of Negativity

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780226284989
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226285009 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226285009.003.0006
Dragging the Truth into the Gutter? The News Media, Negativity, and the 1988 Campaign

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This chapter evaluates one of the most controversial presidential campaigns in modern times: the much-discussed Bush–Dukakis battle in 1988. It is clear that something happened in 1988 which warrants close inspection. In recent years, the news media have devoted much attention to attack advertising, an interest that began quite suddenly in 1988. Is there something different about 1988 that justifies this attention? To answer this kind of question, the chapter makes use of content analysis of ads, but also includes other sorts of evidence to make more nuanced judgments about the negative and positive appeals in that campaign. Most of the conventional explanations of what happened in 1988 do not hold up under scrutiny. It appears that much of the explanation lies with the behavior of the news media, not the candidates.

Keywords: negativity; presidential campaign; information environment; 1988 presidential election

Chapter.  10232 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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