Muffled Echoes Oliver North and the Politics of Public Opinion
- List Price: $105.00
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr
- Publish date: 09/01/1997
Ten years ago the Iran-contra affair swept the headlines as the nation watched an indignant Lt. Col. Oliver North testify before a Congressional committee. Although polls showed that most Americans were critical of North's actions and ambivalent towards the man himself, media coverage left the opposite impression, with its broadcasts of "Ollie-for-President" rallies and stories of Congressional aides overwhelmed by a torrent of pro-North mail. How did this seeming divergence between actual public opinion and the media coverage influence the deliberations of Congress -- and policy-making in general?
Amy Fried looks at opinion polls, the news media, special interest groups, and interviews with congressional members, using the Iran-Contra hearings as a case study.
In this book, public opinion is more than the sum of a pollster's tally; instead, Fried defines it as a political tool, integral to the political process, where vested interests compete to legitimize their interpretation of the public voice. Fried explores the construction, interpretation, and uses of public opinion, raising important questions about the media's role in determining policy. Fried shows how North's popularity was created by a vocal minority abetted by a media all too willing to showcase him as a patriotic symbol through sensationalistic coverage of events like the Pro-North rallies and demonstrations.
Fried's insightful analysis of the business of shaping perceptions of public opinion is an invaluable addition to debates about how our political system relies on the media to "interpret" public opinion.