Eisenhower and the Mass Media: Peace, Prosperity, and Prime-Time TV

In This Review

Eisenhower and the Mass Media: Peace, Prosperity, and Prime-Time TV

by Craig Allen
University of North Carolina Press, 1993
259 pp. $39.95
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Although John F. Kennedy is generally regarded as the "first television president," in fact Dwight Eisenhower provided the precedents, including the first televised fireside chats and the first TV news conferences. Ike was the first president to hire a media consultant. He established the first White House TV studio and provided the first "photo-op." Professor Craig Allen of Arizona State has done some solid research and provides an excellent analysis of Eisenhower's generally masterful manipulation of television, but he could have done a lot more with the way Eisenhower used his press conferences to confuse the Soviet, Chinese and other foreign governments. In other words, in his news conferences the president's tortured syntax was often deliberate, as his intended audience was overseas and his purpose was to affect policy rather than to promote his own popularity.