Communications Media Coverage of Presidential Term Paper

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A candidate is "dumb" or, possibly, "dumber" than his opponent.

The assassination of a Basque politician by the Basque separatist group ETA on the very eve of the election, March 7th, threatened to again confound public opinion of the relative merits of the two major candidates. Ramon Cotarelo, a professor of political science at Madrid's Complutense University opined that public sympathy could swing to Zapatero because the assassinated man was a member of his party or, as the media also reported, "But it could go the other way.... People might say, 'iron fist. The Socialists are no good. Look, they negotiate and it does no good. You have to vote for the right.'"

The idea that public opinion is so easily swayed by last minute violence, or by emotional responses to such violence, is typical of much political thinking in the two countries. Time is not wasted on the real issues facing the nation because it is believed that these are not the things that genuinely concern voters. Rather, the appeal is to emotional appraisals of dramatic developments or, in the absence of these developments, emotional "gut" reactions to candidate's personalities, speeches, stances on minor points, etc.

Both the United States and Spain share many points of similarity in media coverage of presidential election campaigns. A typical approach consists, especially in the United States, of the reporting of all matter of invective and incendiary comments. One or other candidate is either praised inordinately or subjected to an endless round of allegations that call into question his or her judgment on the most fundamental - and frequently trivial - levels. Candidates' personal associates and endorsers are exposed as revealing deep moral faults hidden with the individual who seeks the nation's highest office. A candidate must be perpetually on guard against statements made by his supporters, for these will be taken as tokens of the candidate's own unspoken views. In both countries, bland photographs and other visual representations serve as images of party and voter solidarity. A well-placed sign, or a young face, signifies volumes to those in the know. Lastly, the media is employed to cultivate emotional responses on the part of the voter. Candidates must be stripped of any identification with meaningful positions in order that they might be recast as figures that either intrinsically attract or repel. The electorate's choice is simplified dramatically - they do not need to think at all.

Works Cited

Boehm, Christopher. Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

From the Tour: Titian and the Late Renaissance in Venice." The Collection, National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2006. URL:

DNC: McCain Myth Buster: John McCain and John Hagee." News Wire, 3 March 2008.

Eric. "Spanish Elections, Not My Country." Essays, Living La Vida Espanola. 9 March 2008.

Giner, Juan Antonio. "Old-Fashioned Spanish Presidential Elections Coverage." What's Next: Innovations in Newspapers, 23 February 2008.

Haven, Paul. "Assassination Blamed on ETA Throws Spanish Politics into Turmoil ahead of Vote." AP Worldstream, 7 March 2008.

Kennedy, Helena. "U.S. Primaries: Obama Can Win the Race." New Statesman 21 Jan. 2008: 21+.


Lowry, Richard, and Kate O'Beirne. "Say a Prayer for Hillary: If You Want a Republican in the White House, That Is." National Review 25 Feb. 2008: 34.


Marcou, Pierre-Philippe. "Spain-Vote-Rajoy-PP." Getty Images 1 March 2008.

Nash, Elizabeth. "Zapatero Edges Ahead but Spain's Election Fails to Excite Voters." The Independent, 5 March 2008.

O'Reilly, Bill and Reiman, Tonya. "Body Language: Eliot Spitzer, Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright." The O'Reilly Factor (Fox News Network), 17 March 2008.

Sullivan, John. "The Obama Appeal: He's Post-Racist, but Also Post-American." National Review 11 Feb. 2008: 31.


Helena Kennedy, "U.S. Primaries: Obama Can Win the Race," New Statesman 21 Jan. 2008.

John O'Sullivan, "The Obama Appeal: He's Post-Racist, but Also Post-American," National Review 11 Feb. 2008: 31.

Richard Lowry, and Kate O'Beirne, "Say a Prayer for Hillary: If You Want a Republican in the White House, That Is," National Review 25 Feb. 2008: 34.

DNC: McCain Myth Buster: John McCain and John Hagee," News Wire 3 March 2008.

Bill O'Reilly and Tonya Reiman, "Body Language: Eliot Spitzer, Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright," the O'Reilly Factor (Fox News Network) 17 March 2008.

Elizabeth Nash, "Zapatero Edges Ahead but Spain's Election Fails to Excite Voters," the Independent 5 March 2008.

Pierre-Philippe Marcou, "Spain-Vote-Rajoy-PP," Getty Images 1 March 2008.

Juan Antonio Giner, "Old-Fashioned Spanish Presidential Elections Coverage," What's Next: Innovations in Newspapers 23 February 2008.

Eric, "Spanish Elections, Not My Country," Essays, Living La Vida Espanola 9 March 2008.

Paul Haven, "Assassination Blamed on ETA Throws Spanish Politics into Turmoil ahead of Vote," AP Worldstream, 7 March 2008.[continue]

Some Sources Used in Document:


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