Public opinion is a sensitive but important issue to consider. Taking into consideration relative literary works, this paper identified and presented that Bush’s war on terrorism policy is the best reason that resulted into the unfortunate negative public opinion towards U. S. Most importantly, this paper justified that it is the power of the media field that ultimately paved the way for anti-American public opinion about the said presidential strategy. War on Terrorism: The Anti-American Public Opinion Caused by News Media
Public opinion, especially how people and societies view a particular leader and his policies, is undeniably an important factor of success or failure. Taking into consideration the sentiment of the public is supposed to be an ideal principle and practice for the government and leader of a country. This is because of the reality that public opinion significantly speaks of what and how the people and community think and feel thereby affecting a President’s management of a nation.
Coupled however with the compelling nature and impact of mass communication, news media in particular; public opinion expectedly signifies and creates either an acceptance of or opposition to the decisions and policies of a leader. The media component has long been proven to be a vital ground that determined whether a country and its President are positively or negatively perceived by the public. In fact, with the enormous impact of news media, a leader as well as his strategies and judgments are scrutinized by the media and the subsequent news presentation results to either criticism or recognition.
It is under such premises and circumstances that the government and his leader must highly regard what the news media can offer and eventually do. This is also under the principle that news media absolutely has the power to affect public opinion. With such influence, it will be empirically valuable for a President to formulate and perform his policies and course of action fundamentally in accordance to what and how news media views a specific event.
It is therefore necessary and worthy for a President and his government to consider the established authority of news media to achieve a consenting public opinion otherwise any policy or decision, however good it is, may be opposed and paves the way to the downfall of the administration. Public Opinion, an Overview Prior to digging further into the issue of the significant influence of news media to what and how a leader and his policies are perceived, it is useful to initially learn and understand the nature and relative components of public opinion.
In doing so, it is hoped that the true essence of public opinion is known and that the manner how it is shaped by news media is ultimately realized. Public opinion remains to be a relevant element which energizes the political field of one nation. This condition holds true for American politics judging from the persistent nature and indication of public opinion in the lives of American people and most importantly, with their leader and his policies. To be specific, public opinion manifests “What does the public think?
” (Glynn, Herbst, O’Keefe, Shapiro & Lindeman, 2004, p. 3). Public opinion is importantly considered because authorities are required to learn what kinds of ideas, policies and decisions that the public adheres to and uphold. Additionally, the thought and sentiment of the public are valuable factors which leaders regard in order to come up with acceptable, rational and effective undertakings. It is also through getting the public opinion that the government determines what endeavors will be agreed to or supported by the people.
Hence, creating and implementing policies that are sure to conform to what people and the society think and feel are the very purposes of public opinion (Glynn, Herbst, O’Keefe, Shapiro & Lindeman, 2004). Glynn and company further presented the three provisions that comprised public opinion. These included public opinion in the light of “politics, communication, and social process” (Glynn, Herbst, O’Keefe, Shapiro & Lindeman, 2004, p. 4). The authors however signified that of the said three vital terms, it is public opinion in the context of communication that is most significant (Glynn, Herbst, O’Keefe, Shapiro & Lindeman, 2004).
They explained that while public opinion shapes the political and societal or cultural frameworks of a country, it is communication which established a difference. This is primarily based from the fact that public opinion is communicated and imparted both to people and societies based on the influence of the media profession. Aside from the generalized mass media and interpersonal communication, it is news media that is directly connected with public opinion. This is basically due to the field’s power to manipulate the minds and feelings of the public (Glynn, Herbst, O’Keefe, Shapiro & Lindeman, 2004).
“To See Ourselves as Others See Us” It is through Holsti’s (2008) “To See Ourselves as Others See Us” that the relationship between public opinion and both the local and international news media environments was analyzed and eventually recognized. A part of the Holsti book offered different several probable explanations and foundations of the nature and effect of public perspective. This is because such causes determined how an anti-American public opinion widely and deeply affected U. S. President George W.
Bush and his policies after the country was struck by tragic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 (Holsti, 2008). As an offshoot of dreadful 9/11 terror assaults, the public opinion towards President Bush as well as his decisions and policies was attributed to several reasons. These included, but not limited to, the war on terrorism specifically against the country of Iraq. This issue relatively resulted into the reported violations supposedly committed by the administration against people’s basic rights such as the alleged use of too much force by American military.
In the book, Holsti eventually noted that the presented explanations aggravated the anti-American public opinion. This is supposedly because the international news media influenced the public opinion thereby made the Bush policies and decisions unpopular especially those related with 9/11 (Holsti, 2008). If analyzed on a personal perspective, it is the war on terrorism particularly which targeted Iraq as “axis of evil” that made the most sense.
From the variety of reasons that explained the breadth and depth of the anti-American public opinion resulting from the September 11 attacks, the Holsti book realized that it is indeed the war against terrorism specifically on Iraq that rationally described the negative opinion of people about Bush and his policies (Hoslti, 2008). In discussing the why and how the war on terrorism paved the way for the anti-American public opinion, the book relied and became firm on a condition which signified the connection between news media and public opinion.
This is also because of the premise that we can only recognize ourselves based on how others view us. Hence, the Holsti book made the public realize that Bush’s policies and decisions concerning the war on terrorism are the ones that affected the reason and manner how Bush and his policies are viewed, first by the news media and eventually by people and the society, (Holsti, 2008). Holsti further stated that while survey and poll supposedly establish the ground of public opinion, such practices do not always and reliably manifest the entire or collective
view of the public. This is because a leader such as Bush is more directed by “the national interest” that, in turn, is influenced by the structure of both the local and international news media. Such condition, in fact, signified a chain reaction and the link between public opinion and news media. Hence, the anti-American public opinion is shaped by how the news media presented the Bush’s policies specifically concerning its administration’s war on terrorism (Holsti, 2008). News Media’s View on War on Terrorism Caused Negative Public Opinion
The title of this section appropriately described and logically explained the significant connection between the media and public opinion. Centered on the issue of war on terrorism, such link specifically proved and paid particular attention to the power or influence of international news media. This is basically based from the reality that the manner how media presented to the public the said policy created a significant effect on Bush and his policies. This particular principle was what Entman (2004) clearly and effectively exemplified in the book “Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion and U. S. Foreign Policy. ”
In carrying-out and eventually recognizing the reality and harmful impact of news media on public opinion, the author discussed how Bush’s decision and policies towards engaging in war against terrorism was unfortunately taken against his administration (Entman, 2004). In the first part of the book, Entman initially presented the surrounding circumstances of the post September 11 terrorist attacks in the U. S. Relatively, the news media initially presented that such factors necessitated the undertaking of the war on terrorism policy.
In fact, the book showed how such presidential strategy was tremendously approved and even supported by the public. This is because during its initial stage and precisely because the world is still fresh from the glaring outcome of 9/11, the public appreciated and realized the need for Bush and the country as well as even the worldwide community to embark on such daring policy (Entman, 2004). Noticeably, news media initially presented that it was only proper for Bush and his war on terrorism policy to be executed.
Entman cited CBS news anchor Dan Rather who, after Bush made the said policy, offered to put on his combat uniform and said “George Bush is the president, he makes the decisions, and, you know, as just one American, he wants me to line up, just tell me where” (Entman, 2004, p. 1). Entman added that such kind of statement and other relative remarks symbolized the “patriotic fervor” manifested by the media as an aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and based from the intense speech of Bush (Entman, 2004).
However, it is not all the time that the Bush administration got an ally in the person of Rather. Entman noted that this is because of the link between the content and purpose of a news media report and what the White House really required the media to present. Relatively, such connection or should it rather be said as conflict worsened the relationship between a free and impartial press and the Bush government that is bent to retaliate against terrorists under the leadership of Saddam Hussein while at the same time maintain a supposedly consenting public opinion (Entman, 2004).
As the author further explained, a supposedly ideal affiliation between Bush’s war on terrorism policy and news media reporting does not exist in reality. This is because of the fact that the two entities treat each other in a remote way and definitely not in accordance with what is expected. As Entman specifically said: “…in practice, the relationship between governing elites and news organizations is less distant and more cooperative than the ideal envisions, especially in foreign affairs” (Entman, 2004, p. 2).
Thus it was worthy to note that an originally ideal and useful leadership strategy, such as the principle and practice of engaging into war against terrorism by the Bush administration, unfortunately marred the President’s relationship with the media and negatively affected the public opinion towards him. Such condition also resulted from the premise that the field of media was restricted with the contents and purposes of its reporting in order for the government to maintain a cordial yet in reality, a cruel foreign approach resulting from the damages of 9/11 (Entman, 2004).
Most importantly, it was the objective but painful presentations made by the international news media environment that inevitably resulted into an anti-American public opinion, criticisms against Bush war on terrorism in particular. When analyzed however, it is likely that the media side is more justified in its efforts and objectives in presenting the nature and effects of the government’s war on terrorism specifically against Iraq and Hussein. This is precisely because of the innate quality of the media to provide the public with fair and accurate reporting (Entman, 2004).
The author further justified that despite the tragedies created by 9/11, it did not alter the expectedly conventional nature and standard of the media profession. As such, Entman maintained that: The attacks of September 11, 2001, may have “changed everything,” as a cliche’ of the time had it, but at least on first impression, one thing it did not change was the news media’s traditional promotion of patriotic rallies around presidents when America appears under attack.
Reflecting the surge of outrage and nationalist fervor, the news made little room for any but official, government-sanctioned interpretations. Even the mildest dissent was immediately condemned. It would be unrealistic to expect much else in light of the stunning, unprecedented, and heinous nature of the violence. (p. 2) Ultimately, the Entman book imparted that the projection of power made by Bush and his war on terrorism policy, in the light of the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks, framed the way how news media adhered to uphold its natural reporting principles.
In doing so however, it required the field to expose the glaring cruel objectives and implications of the said policy. By bravely, explicitly and objectively presenting the American war on terrorism, first against Iraq and Hussein and eventually with other terrorist-laden countries; the minds and sentiments of the people were opened and, unfortunately for the part of Bush and the entire nation, it resulted into an anti-American public opinion (Entman, 2004). Media Reports on Bush Policy Led to Anti-American Public Opinion
At the onset, the power and eventual influence of media concerning how people think and feel was already presented. In the book “Framing Terrorism: The News Media, The Government and the Public, such premise or argument was emphasized by Norris, Kern and Just (2003). Beyond the supposed rational and righteous nature and objectives of the war on terrorism policy by the Bush administration, it is the instinctive and ethical attitude of the international news media community that prevailed (Norris, Kern & Just, 2003).
In particular, the authors maintained the position that it is the rightful obligation of the news media profession to provide the public with just and correct reporting. Regardless of the own authority of the government, the media is expected to present to people what are actually happening even if such conditions put the government in bad light. Hence, in the course of the mandate of the news media to report the nation’s engagement into war in Iraq and other “terrorists” nations, the human rights violations reportedly committed by American soldiers were exposed.
While after the 9/11 attacks, the public opinion was collectively geared in favor of the government and its planned policies, the aftermath of such undertakings created bad impressions among people and eventually resulted into an opposing American public opinion (Norris, Kern & Just, 2003). This condition is where the role and involvement of the news media field were highlighted. The authors made a clear position that in shaping the nature, circumstances and effects of terrorism, the news media industry definitely has a significant function in the manner how the government policy is criticized or accepted by the people.
Ultimately, due to the undeniable violations and hostilities brought about by the said Bush war on terrorism policy, the news media played an important part in shaping the general perspective that eventually led to an anti-American public opinion (Norris, Kern & Just, 2003). Conclusion It is now clear that the war on terrorism policy by the American government explained the extent and intensity of the negative public opinion. Beyond this however, it is the undisputable influence of news media that was identified as the best reason for the said opposing public perspective towards U. S and its president.
Such condition is a sad but true occurrence that ultimately affected people’s view on Bush and his leadership style. References Entman, R. M. (2004). Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion and U. S. Foreign Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Glynn, C. J. , Herbst, S. , O’Keefe, G. J. , Shapiro, R. Y. , & Lindeman M. (2004). Public Opinion. Boulder, CO: West view. Holsti, O. R. (2008). To See Ourselves as Others See Us. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Norris, P. , Kern, M. & Just, M. R (2003). Framing Terrorism: The News Media, The Government and the Public. New York: Routledge.
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