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Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency

David Greenberg
Format
Book
Published
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2016.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
ISBN
9780393067064, 0393067068
Summary
"The most powerful political tool of the modern presidency is control of the message and the image. The Greeks called it 'rhetoric,' Gilded Age politicians called it 'publicity,' and some today might call it 'lying,' but spin is a built-in feature of American democracy. Presidents deploy it to engage, persuade, and mobilize the people--in whom power ultimately resides. Presidential historian David Greenberg recounts the development of the White House spin machine from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama. His sweeping narrative introduces us to the visionary advisers who taught politicians to manage the press, gauge public opinion, and master the successive new media of radio, television, and the Internet. We see Wilson pioneering the press conference, FDR scheming with his private pollsters, Reagan's aides hatching sound bites, and George W. Bush staging his extravagant photo-ops. We also see the past century's most provocative political critics, from H. L. Mencken to Stephen Colbert, grappling with the ambiguous role of spin in a democracy--its capacity for misleading but also for leading"--Provided by publisher.
Contents
  • Introduction: A world of spin
  • Part I. The age of publicity
  • Theodore Roosevelt and the public presidency
  • William McKinley and the passing of the old order
  • The rise of public opinion
  • TR and "the fair-haired"
  • Muckraking and its critics
  • The passion of Upton Sinclair
  • The dawn of public relations
  • Wilson speaks
  • Pitiless publicity
  • The press agents' war
  • The journey of George Creel
  • Disillusionment
  • Part II. The age of ballyhoo
  • Return to normalcy
  • Walter Lippmann and the problem of the majority
  • The likes and dislikes of H.L. Mencken
  • Bruce Barton and the soul of the 1920s
  • "Silent Cal"
  • The overt acts of Edward Bernays
  • Master of emergencies
  • Part III. The age of communication
  • Tuned to Roosevelt
  • Nazism and propaganda
  • The dark side of radio
  • Campaigns, inc
  • The wizard of Washington
  • The road to war
  • The facts and figures of Archibald MacLeish
  • Propaganda and the "Good War"
  • Part IV. The age of news management
  • The underestimation of Harry Truman
  • George Gallup and the promise of scientific polling
  • Psychological warfare
  • Eisenhower answers America
  • Salesmanship and secrecy
  • The TV president
  • "Atoms for peace"
  • Vance Packard and the anxiety of persuasion
  • Part V. The age of image making
  • Theodore H. White and the unmaking of presidential mystique
  • The great debates
  • The politics of image
  • The Kennedy mystique
  • News management in Camelot
  • Crisis
  • "Let us continue"
  • The credibility gap
  • The new politics
  • Part VI. The age of spin
  • Richard Nixon and the permanent campaign
  • The Reagan apotheosis
  • Spinning out of control
  • George W. Bush and the "truthiness" problem
  • Barack Obama and the spin of no spin.
Description
xvii, 540 pages :billustrations ; 25 cm
Notes
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic
  • Staff View

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    a| "The most powerful political tool of the modern presidency is control of the message and the image. The Greeks called it 'rhetoric,' Gilded Age politicians called it 'publicity,' and some today might call it 'lying,' but spin is a built-in feature of American democracy. Presidents deploy it to engage, persuade, and mobilize the people--in whom power ultimately resides. Presidential historian David Greenberg recounts the development of the White House spin machine from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama. His sweeping narrative introduces us to the visionary advisers who taught politicians to manage the press, gauge public opinion, and master the successive new media of radio, television, and the Internet. We see Wilson pioneering the press conference, FDR scheming with his private pollsters, Reagan's aides hatching sound bites, and George W. Bush staging his extravagant photo-ops. We also see the past century's most provocative political critics, from H. L. Mencken to Stephen Colbert, grappling with the ambiguous role of spin in a democracy--its capacity for misleading but also for leading"--Provided by publisher.
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    a| Introduction: A world of spin -- Part I. The age of publicity -- Theodore Roosevelt and the public presidency -- William McKinley and the passing of the old order -- The rise of public opinion -- TR and "the fair-haired" -- Muckraking and its critics -- The passion of Upton Sinclair -- The dawn of public relations -- Wilson speaks -- Pitiless publicity -- The press agents' war -- The journey of George Creel -- Disillusionment -- Part II. The age of ballyhoo -- Return to normalcy -- Walter Lippmann and the problem of the majority -- The likes and dislikes of H.L. Mencken -- Bruce Barton and the soul of the 1920s -- "Silent Cal" -- The overt acts of Edward Bernays -- Master of emergencies -- Part III. The age of communication -- Tuned to Roosevelt -- Nazism and propaganda -- The dark side of radio -- Campaigns, inc -- The wizard of Washington -- The road to war -- The facts and figures of Archibald MacLeish -- Propaganda and the "Good War" -- Part IV. The age of news management -- The underestimation of Harry Truman -- George Gallup and the promise of scientific polling -- Psychological warfare -- Eisenhower answers America -- Salesmanship and secrecy -- The TV president -- "Atoms for peace" -- Vance Packard and the anxiety of persuasion -- Part V. The age of image making -- Theodore H. White and the unmaking of presidential mystique -- The great debates -- The politics of image -- The Kennedy mystique -- News management in Camelot -- Crisis -- "Let us continue" -- The credibility gap -- The new politics -- Part VI. The age of spin -- Richard Nixon and the permanent campaign -- The Reagan apotheosis -- Spinning out of control -- George W. Bush and the "truthiness" problem -- Barack Obama and the spin of no spin.
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