Segments in this Video

A Sensational Press Interferes with Politics (02:36)


Congressmen charge that a cynical, sensationalist press interferes with the ability to govern by mocking nearly everything politicians say. The media circus which surrounded a presidential primary election in New York illustrates their point.

The Media Filter (03:45)

A communications expert asserts that the media often filters out substantive content from political news stories. She describes media coverage of foreign policy speeches delivered by Bill Clinton and George Bush to illustrate her point.

Substantive Political Discourse (02:12)

A communications expert asserts that it is still possible to find responsible media coverage of substantive political debate. She believes that the American people want to hear more about issues with less sensationalism.

Reporting Political Trivia (02:12)

A media critic denies that news coverage of political trivia is driving substance out of political discourse. He also challenges the suggestion that the media intentionally filters substance from political coverage.

Media Coverage of Presidential Campaigns (04:06)

A communications expert and a media critic debate pros and cons regarding media coverage of a presidential campaign. They address the various sources of political information available to citizens with diverse interests.

The Problem with Sound Bites (03:15)

Bill Moyers interviews members of Congress regarding the media's influence on political discourse. They describe how difficult it is to talk substantively about issues when the press is primarily interested in sound bites.

America's Political Conversation: The Blame Game (04:10)

A political reporter responds to charges that the press filters substance from political stories in order to highlight the sensational and trivial. She defends the work of the press and counters that politicians have made the press a scapegoat.

The Media and Voter Turnout (04:05)

Bill Moyers interviews a panel of experts regarding media coverage of political campaigns. The panel addresses the media's influence on voter turnout, details causes of low voter turnout, and proposes remedies for the problem.

Politics as Sport (01:48)

The author of the book, "Why Americans Hate Politics," charges that journalists cover political stories as though they were merely sporting events. He also notes that much of what politicians offer journalists is not substantive.

Getting a Political Message Heard (05:37)

A former Jesse Jackson staffer asserts that blame for the lack of substantive political discourse in America lies with politicians, voters, and the press. He offers insights into the difficulty candidates have in getting their full and complete views heard.

Political Debate in Great Britain (03:04)

The way Americans conduct political discourse and debate is not the only, or necessarily best, way to do so. A debate between politicians in Great Britain demonstrates that the political conversation can be both dramatic and substantive.

Presidential Debate Formats (02:02)

The way in which debates are conducted during presidential campaigns often do little to help voters make informed choices. A communications expert proposes a format for conducting substantive, informative debates between candidates.

Spinning Politics with Buzzwords (05:17)

Bill Moyers interviews four members of Congress regarding the use of political buzzwords and jargon. The panel discusses a Republican document which lists specific language useful for shaping a message and attacking an opponent.

Racism in Political Discourse (02:02)

A professor of African-American studies charges that right-wing politicians manipulate politics with racism and fear. He describes how some politicians use subtle racist language to attack opponents.

Exposing Character Issues (03:11)

Bill Moyers interviews a panel of experts regarding the media's influence on substantive political discourse. Panelists debate the relevance, and relative importance, of character issues in coverage of political candidates.

The Media, Voters, and Political Discourse (03:34)

A panel of experts discusses the media's influence on political discourse. Panelists debate whether media coverage of political campaigns provides voters with substantive information on issues, and whether or not voters want that kind of information.

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Can We Govern? (Part Two)

Part of the Series : Listening to America with Bill Moyers
DVD Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



This program with Bill Moyers explores the uses and abuses of political language and how the democratic conversation has been frustrated and trivialized by the new jargon of politics. Appearing in the program are Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communications; noted media commentator Edwin Diamond; E. J. Dionne, author of Why Americans Hate Politics; and U.S. representatives Barney Frank, Dave Obey, Susan Molinari, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. (60 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL5035

ISBN: 978-1-4213-9271-4

Copyright date: ©1992

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.