Segments in this Video

Prelude: Video Images, the Language of Politics (03:34)


Television and news journalists determine what to portray as reality, and often it is the "official" reality of politicians--a view that does not serve the public. Today's news viewers are primed to be entertained, not informed.

Presidential Campaign Media Coverage (04:02)

Bill Moyers discusses the 1988 presidential campaign and its disconnection with real world events or domestic issues. He focuses on how the Bush and Reagan campaigns manipulated news to project a certain image of the candidates.

Media: Power of Visual Images (04:31)

Bill Moyers interviews news person Leslie Stahl about the impact of visual over verbal news coverage. Archival footage shows Reagan's manipulation of visual images to distract the public from negative aspects of his administration.

Reagan Presidency: Media Manipulation (04:18)

Michael Deaver and Bill Moyers discuss the Reagan administration's deliberate manipulation of domestic news to create a positive visual media event. Deaver describes his role as a "Hollywood producer" of "Reagan movies."

Media Manipulation: Packaging the News (03:17)

Bill Moyers interviews a political consultant about political manipulation of visual and electronic media to create an "unreal" reality. Politicians set the agenda for their campaign coverage, and reporters go along with it.

1988 Presidential Campaign Coverage (03:39)

As Reagan's understudy for 8 years, G.H.W. Bush understood the "power of the picture" and the acquiescence of the press to campaign agenda. Journalists accept the politically staged events of reality that come in 10-second "blips."

Media: Sound Bites and Meaningless Visuals (02:48)

Political dialogue in the media is condensed into "political shorthand," and candidates are judged by their ability speak in sound bites.

Television: Journalists as Celebrities (03:55)

Bill Moyers discusses the televised 1964 presidential campaign and John Chancellor's arrest. The self-conscious press covers itself as journalists/celebrities who interview other celebrities and call it news.

1988 Confrontation Between Politician and Journalist (04:23)

Archival film footage shows the 1988 heated debate between Dan Rather and G.H.W. Bush, who later focused on the "heat" rather than on reasons why he did not answer any of Rather's questions. Bush turned the event to his political advantage.

News Reporting: Public Responsibility vs. Business and Entertainment Interests (04:25)

Bill Moyers interviews correspondent Leslie Stahl about the restrictions on her television reporting orchestrated by both Reagan and CBS executives. News organizations shifted to serving business and entertainment interests.

News Coverage: High Profits and Ratings (04:07)

Network news focuses on ratings and popularity as entertainment sources rather than on providing substantive news. When market forces drive editorial decisions, newspapers take on the look of "USA Today."

Newspapers: Profit-Making vs. Relevant News (03:58)

Bill Moyers and "Boston Globe" editors discuss what it takes to keep a respected newspaper alive and prosperous as it balances relevant news with market-driven information the public demands. "USA Today" represents "news on the run."

Media Sensationalism vs. Responsible News Reporting (04:49)

Bill Moyers and journalism experts discuss the transition of television and print news as an essential part of the democratic process to news as pure entertainment, such as political scandals and corruptions, or "trash politics."

Prologue: Role of Journalists (03:06)

Micheal Deaver asserts that the American public simply wants to be entertained and is not interested in the democratic process. Bill Moyers sums up the role of good journalism in a democratic society.

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Illusions of News

Part of the Series : The Public Mind
DVD Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



This program looks at the impact of the visual image on news and politics in the electing of Presidents and the governing of America. While projecting a self-serving image has long been an understandable part of American politics, the 1980s produced a marriage of sophisticated news manipulation by political candidates and a willingness of the news media to dance to the candidate’s tune. To what extent has this manipulation contributed to political apathy on the part of the American public? The program looks at the changing values in journalism, including the increasing monopolization of the media and the use of pictures over ideas by television news. Says Michael Deaver, a former advisor in the Reagan White House, "The media, while they won’t admit it, are not in the news business. They’re in the entertainment business." (60 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL4934

ISBN: 978-1-4213-9850-1

Copyright date: ©1989

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.