How the Media Constructs Reality
Chapter 6: Performed Authenticity: The Obama Campaigns
· 6 · performed authenticity The Obama Campaigns Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favour of the image, because the image is more powerful than he could ever be. —Marshall McLuhan Politicians’ use of new media technologies has been a recurring theme in the book, and we have seen that the introduction of every new medium has redefined authenticity and therefore also applied new requirements for political campaigning. The previous chapters have demonstrated that the politician who at an early stage understood the potential of the new medium, and had the qualifications, skills, and network to take advantage of its potentials, had the upper hand in the campaigns. Among these pio- neers were President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who with his 1930s and 1940s “fireside chats” used broadcast radio to connect intimately with the voters; John F. Kennedy, who in the early 1960s became the first presidential can- didate who managed to use TV to his advantage; and Bill Clinton, who was the first to exploit the fragmented TV landscape in the early 1990s by appearing on talk shows targeted at specific audiences. In spite of their dif- ferent styles and historical premises, these three presidents had in common that they managed to use the media to perform their roles as authentic pres- idents and to connect with the voters. 110 mediated authenticity A key criterion for being elected as president of the United States is to come across to the voters...
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