Media and the Presidency

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The Presidency and The Media 1 Pluralism in the Presidency and the Media Gary Larsen PAP 620 Final Examination Dr. Rose December 7, 2003 The Presidency and The Media 2 Abstract This examination of the presidency and the media, using the theory of pluralism, taken together with empirical predictions and normative expectations from both pluralists and non-pluralists alike, shows that: (1) The presidency fulfills its functions as a political institution but has problems with conflicts of in
  The Presidency and The Media 1Pluralism in the Presidency and the MediaGary LarsenPAP 620Final ExaminationDr. RoseDecember 7, 2003  The Presidency and The Media 2AbstractThis examination of the presidency and the media, using the theory of pluralism, taken together with empirical predictions and normative expectations from both pluralists and non-pluralistsalike, shows that: (1) The presidency fulfills its functions as a political institution but hasproblems with conflicts of interest, abdication of public decision-making responsibilities to non-public interests, and a failure to foster core democratic values in citizens; and (2) The media isextremely successful as a business, however, as a political institution, it has a long way to go its democratic functions are nascent, fragmentary, and ill formed. The challenge is clear:Citizens and scholars alike need to forge democracy anew in this, our third, century of therepublic.  The Presidency and The Media 3Pluralism in the Presidency and the MediaThe question at hand is an examination of the presidency and the media, from theperspective of pluralism and pluralism's critics. Do these institutions function as pluralists predictempirically and as they hope normatively? And why, or why not? Elkin & Soltan (1993) theorizethat the functions of political systems are to (a) limit exercise of political power, (b) conduct thebusiness for which they were created, (c) provide the means to make policysolve socialproblems, and (d) help form the character of citizens. They define the terrain of theory for political constitution of a constitutional regime to lie “somewhere between an attempt to answer two questionsWhat is the best political way of life? And how may we know this?and theempirical analysis of how political systems operate” (p. 139-140). My thesis is twofold: (a) first,in the face of impossibly high public expectations, preservation of democracy requires thecontinuing foil of limited government to prevent runaway governmental growth and concomitantloss of liberty and freedom; and (b) second, government may no longer have requisite power toregulate commerce for the public weal.MethodThis article examines the presidency and the media as political institutions usingtheoretical, empirical, and normative analysis. The analysis uses an expository method to elicitspeculative inquiry on the meaning and possible future developments of pluralism anddemocracy in American. I analyze the presidency and the media with regard to structure andfunction, using the functions of political institutions theorized by Elkin & Soltan above, and thetheoretical, empirical, and normative constructs developed from the discussion of pluralism andgroup theory below. This latter piece develops criteria on (a) empirical predictions of pluralism,considering both classical and dynamic aspects; (b) normative expectations of pluralism; and (c)efficacy of the two institutions drawing from views of critics of pluralism. The section onintegration and conclusion draws together the main elements of the analysis and points to theconstitutive work before us to better harness the engines of commerce for the public weal, mostparticularly the media.  The Presidency and The Media 4ContextI frame this article with two paradoxes. The first is that the institutional fragmentation thefounding fathers instituted to limit government has dramatically increased public expectations of what government should provide, thus creating a powerful driver for bigger government. Thesecond paradox is that while government created conditions for American commerce to prosper,government may no longer have sufficient requisite power to regulate it for the public good.Debate about the proper relationships and balance of power between individuals, factions, andsovereigns is much older than our country. McKay (2000) ascertains that “institutionalfragmentation was deliberately instituted by the founding fathers to limit government, not toincrease public expectations of what it can do” (p. 389). Hyperpluralism, borne of many factionshaving prolific points of access to political institutions, has resulted in public expectations sohigh that they cannot possibly be met. McKay observes that the philosophy of limitedgovernment continues “inexplicably” to this day. My thesis is that, rather than beinginexplicable, the preservation of democracy and democratic values actually requires thecontinuing foil of limited government to prevent runaway growth of government andconcomitant loss of liberty and freedom. While my thesis is too large to prove or disprove in thisshort essay, careful selection of criteria for a critical review of the presidency and the media mayserve to inform the utility of the thesis, if not its ultimate answer. My intent for framing the thesisis to set a suitable stage for exploring the political institutions of the President and the media.The second paradox provides a window to reflect on where democracydemocraticprocesses and democratic valuesmight emerge, grow, and prosper in our republic’s thirdcentury, particularly considering the possibility that our current course on pluralism may not besustainable. Our founding fathers acknowledged the need for a strong federal government for two purposes: “to defend the young republic against a hostile outside world and to provide anopen and orderly market for the free exchange of goods and services within the borders of thenew nation-state” (McKay, 2000, p. 76). Turning attention to only the latter point, our republic
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