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The Control Room: How Television Calls the Shots in Presidential Elections

Plissner, Martin

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ISBN 10: 068482731X / ISBN 13: 9780684827315
Verlag: Free Press
Gebraucht Zustand: Fine Hardcover
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068482731X Fine in Fine dust jacket. First edition. Quality, Value, Experience. Media Shipped in New Boxes. Buchnummer des Verkäufers BING58920

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: The Control Room: How Television Calls the ...

Verlag: Free Press

Einband: Hardcover


Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included

Auflage: 1st Edition

Über diesen Titel


"Thirty-five years ago, sad to say, CBS, NBC, and ABC created the modern New Hampshire primary." So says The Control Room, a gritty look at how network news has come to dominate every stage of presidential selection from the earliest announcements to the final swearing in. As we embark on another of the quadrennial circuses that determine how the world's most powerful country passes its crown, The Control Room shows us who really cracks the whip.

Martin Plissner, former political director of CBS News, has played a central role in the network coverage of every presidential campaign since 1964. Now, drawing on his intimate knowledge of life inside the control room, he provides a lively and authoritative account of the ways television has come to dominate presidential politics in the final third of the twentieth century. Blending personal anecdotes with fascinating mini-histories, Plissner shows how all the elements of the contest for national power in America -- the primaries, the conventions, and the final counting of the ballots -- are shaped by the struggle among the networks for supremacy in viewership and breaking news on ever-dwindling budgets.

How did Ross Perot trounce both George Bush and Bill Clinton in primaries he never entered? And how did Pat Buchanan's far-right call to arms become the main event at the 1992 Republican National Convention? Why did the country expect a Carter-Reagan photo finish in 1980 and a Clinton landslide in 1996 -- neither of which happened? The answers to all of these questions begin in the network control rooms.

As the race for the White House heads toward a new century, Plissner reveals how television news coverage will decide who gets attention and when, who is on the rise and who is down the chute, when the race begins and when it ends, and what you care about when you vote for president. "The men and women who call the shots at the network news divisions do have an agenda," writes Plissner. Find out what it is in this fascinating insider's report.


Having worked at CBS News for three decades, most recently as executive political director, Martin Plissner has witnessed the behind-the-scenes decisions that determine how the networks cover presidential campaigns. In The Control Room, he suggests that presidential campaigns have, in response to that coverage, become one big staged (or, rather, televised) event in which candidates spend their days flying from place to place shaking hands, attending festivals, and giving speeches--all in the hope that it'll generate a broadcast-worthy image or sound bite.

Having so much control over what most Americans learn about presidential candidates makes TV powerful indeed, but Plissner dismisses the notion that producers and executives have a political agenda: "Their goals are for the most part the largest possible viewership at the lowest possible cost and the gratification that comes from scoring any kind of competitive edge over their television rivals." Exactly right--and increasingly corrosive to the political process. In 1952, when the first political convention was televised nationwide, the party's nominees were still chosen at the conventions; the 1976 conventions were the last at which there was even a hint of mystery over who the nominees would be. With the final selections now obvious months in advance, conventions have lost their news value and become political extravaganza shows. But in trying to tightly script their conventions for the television audience, political operatives have outsmarted themselves: the conventions have become so canned, so staged, and so devoid of any spontaneity that in 2000 it's possible the only live coverage will be of the nominees' acceptance speeches. According to Plissner, that might not be such a bad idea. --Linda Killian

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