GWU Professor Offers Insights on the Unique Relationship Between the President and the Media

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Dr. Bob Carey Shares Perspectives on Historical Dynamics of the Presidency and the Press Corps

photo of Dr. Bob Carey
Photo by Heather Pendergraft

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Whether contentious or complimentary, the relationship between media outlets and the U.S. President is as varied as the individuals involved. Members of the media understand that each inauguration can usher in significant changes related to the frequency of—and access to—presidential press conferences, photo opportunities, speeches, and more.

“Throughout time, we have had different changes in technology,” said Dr. Bob Carey, GWU Professor of Communication and chair of the Department of Communication and New Media Studies. “But it’s very interesting to consider how the nation’s leaders have utilized those tools of technical communication in their presidency.”

From Franklin D. Roosevelt’s radio “Fireside Chat” broadcasts to John F. Kennedy’s use of television, American presidents have learned to harness the power of modern media technologies to convey their messages and generate support among the voting population. Recently, President Donald Trump’s administration has discussed the possibility of closing or relocating the White House Press Room, which would impact approximately one-third of the reporters and news bureaus that constitute the Washington Press Corps.

“There have been presidents who have had adversarial relationships with the press, but whether it is to this extent, I don’t know,” Carey reflected. “This is going to be a unique time—how President Trump handles the media will be interesting. I don’t think we’re going to see a wide-open presidency. I think it’s going to be a little more controlled. It will be interesting to see what his administration allows, and who he allows.”

Although many consider President Obama to be very open, some members of the press have resisted his one-photographer-takes-all-the-images approach. “The press has definitely pushed back against that,” Carey noted. “The White House basically has complete control over all images released. Some outlets have refused to print them because they view it as public relations propaganda.”

Carey also notes that social media has in many ways completely changed the way news is reported—as well as what—or who—creates news.  “Because of changes in technology, anyone can decide they are a journalist. There’s fake news on both the right and the left,” he stated. “You have to discern that and have an idea of what’s going on. There is a responsibility on each individual to check the sources and make sure the information is reliable.”

To listen to the complete interview with Dr. Bob Carey, click below.

The information contained in this interview does not represent an affirmation of any partisanship on the part of the University. In order to protect the academic and intellectual freedom of our students, faculty and staff alike, Gardner-Webb does not privilege or endorse any particular political perspective, candidate or party. 

Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb University’s purpose is to advance the Kingdom of God through Christian higher education by preparing graduates for professional and personal success, instilling in them a deep commitment to service and leadership, and equipping them for well-rounded lives of lasting impact, Pro Deo et Humanitate (For God and Humanity).