The “Rhetorical Presidency” Meets the Press: The New York Times and the State of the Union Message

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Political Science

Publication Date



In the modern era, presidential public addresses have become important political tools, but need favorable media coverage to succeed. Yet little is known about how media cover these events. This study examines New York Times coverage of State of the Union Messages to test four sets of possible influences on the press—objective reality, liberal bias, the “credibility gap,” and “news” biases toward the “game” of politics. It finds the news biases to be the most powerful explanation, indicating that the political “state of the President” determines the tone of coverage more than a liberal bias, the “credibility gap” of recent years, or even the “actual” state of the union itself.


This article was originally published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly


© 1999 AEJMC