Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

“The View” from the Oval Office: The audience effects of presidential appearances on entertainment talk shows
by House, Kathryn Collier, M.A., Georgetown University, 2011, 126; 1491333
Abstract (Summary)

After Bill Clinton’s famous appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show during the 1992 presidential campaign, politicians began incorporating entertainment television shows into their campaign media repertoires. In this study, I label appearances by political figures on entertainment shows as politainment. Politainment allows a politician to display a more personal and appealing side of his or her persona, while also reaching a different audience than those who regularly follow traditional news outlets. While past presidents ceased these appearances after Election Day, President Obama took the politainment media strategy with him to the White House and has appeared with relative frequency on a variety of entertainment shows.

This study uses President Obama’s July 29, 2010 appearance on the daytime talk show The View as a case study for exploring the content of presidential politainment and its effects on audiences. Using a quantitative content analysis of this episode of The View, I demonstrate that presidential politainment contains substantive policy content in addition to lighter banter that shows a more relatable side of the president. In addition, I conducted quasi-experimental focus groups to examine audience effects. The focus groups yielded survey data and discussion by the participants regarding two clips from Obama’s appearance on The View. A quantitative analysis of this data found clear attitudinal shifts after viewing the clips regarding President Obama personally as well as the Obama Administration’s policies. This study underscores the importance of examining politainment as a distinct type of soft news and recognizing politainment as a new and unique form of political communication.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Owen, Diana M.
Commitee: Farnsworth, Stephen
School: Georgetown University
Department: Communication, Culture & Technology
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 49/05M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, Mass communications
Keywords: Audience effects, Entertainment media, Politainment, Presidential communication, Soft news, The view
Publication Number: 1491333
ISBN: 978-1-124-59786-7
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