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Using case studies of major contests over how key elements of the Affordable Care Act would be framed, and analysis of how those frames fared in influential and popular U.S. news sources, Hopper examines the conditions under which the president can effectively shape public debates today. She argues that despite the difficult political and communications context, the president retains substantial advantages in framing major controversial issues for the media and the public. These presidential framing advantages are conditional, however, and Hopper explores the factors that help make presidential frames more or less likely to gain hold in the news today. More so than in the past, an element of unpredictability in this news environment means that in pursuing favorable messaging, the president and his surrogates may also generate some unintentional consequences in how issues are portrayed to the public. Presidential frames can evolve with unfolding events to take on new meanings and applications, a process facilitated alternately by supporters, opponents, and media actors. Still, media figures and political opponents remain largely reactive to presidential communications, even as some seek to publicize and exploit weaknesses in the administration’s narratives. A close look at these recent cases casts new light on the scholarly debate surrounding the president’s ability to persuasively communicate and challenges conventional wisdom that the 21st century media largely present an unmanageable news environment for the White House.
Presidential Framing in the 21st Century News Mediaengages with current events in American politics, focusing on the Obama Administration and the Affordable Care Act, while also reflecting upon the state of the American presidency, the news media, and the public in ways that have substantial implications for all of these actors, not merely in the present, but into the future, making it a compelling read for scholars of Political Science, Media Studies, Communication Studies, and Public Policy.