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Presidents and the Press in Times of Crisis

Jon Marshall

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: Potomac Books
Published: 05/2022
Pages: 448
Subject: Political Science
eBook ISBN: 9781640125261


Donald Trump's presidency was marked by angry attacks on journalists, an extraordinary ability to capture the media spotlight, a flood of disinformation from the White House, and bitter partisanship reflected in the media. Trump's dysfunctional relationship with the press affected how the United States dealt with the crises of COVID-19, climate change, social unrest due to systemic racism, and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. But Trump's troubled relationship with the press didn't happen by chance.Clash explores the political, economic, social, and technological forces that have shaped the relationship between U.S. presidents and the press during times of crisis. In addition to Trump's presidency, Clash examines those of John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Some of these presidents faced military or international crises. Others were challenged by economic downturns or political scandals. And sometimes the survival of America's system of government was at stake. By examining what happened between presidents and the press during these pivotal times, Clash helps us understand how we arrived at our current troubled state of affairs. It concludes with recommendations for strengthening the role the press plays in keeping presidents accountable.


Jon Marshall is an associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. He is the author of Watergate's Legacy and the Press: The Investigative Impulse. His work has appeared in the New York Times,,, Christian Science Monitor, CBS News' Public Eye, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, and other venues.


"A brisk, authoritative American history from an intriguing angle."?Kirkus Reviews

"From Adams to Trump, from Lincoln to Obama, American presidents have had a symbiotic and adversarial relationship with the press. Jon Marshall's carefully researched book takes us inside the hard-nosed reporting, the confrontations, calculations, and prevarications, to paint a picture of the often?troubled?connection between two of the most powerful forces in our country, our commander in chief and the sprawling news media, in moments of high tension. The result is a clearer understanding of this high-stakes, complex relationship that has consequences for every American."?Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour

"Jon Marshall offers a compelling tutorial on the often tortured relationship between American presidents and the reporters who cover them. Clash is a must-read for anybody interested in the vital role of a free press in a democratic society."?Jonathan Karl, chief Washington correspondent of ABC News and former president of the White House Correspondents' Association