pp. 156-157

Going to War in Iraq: When Citizens and the Press Matter, George E. Marcus, Stanley Feldman and Leonie Huddy

Reviewed by Shana Kushner Gadarian
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In times of foreign crises, how does a largely inattentive public make sense of arguments from political leaders about the need for military action? What role does an active and critical press play in informing the public and helping citizens decide whether a country should go to war? A great deal of research in the post–September 11 era has criticized the media’s performance during this time as more lapdog than watchdog of government. In an in-depth analysis of American public opinion and media coverage during the lead-up to the Iraq War, Stanley Feldman, Leonie Huddy, and George E. Marcus challenge the assertion that the press as a whole failed to provide various perspectives on whether the United States should go to war. Their analysis of news coverage in the fall of 2002 contests this conventional wisdom by demonstrating that voices critical of the war effort were present in the media and available for skeptical citizens, but these voices were much more likely to appear in newspapers rather than on television news. Even as early as fall 2002, citizens aware of this more critical news and motivated to deliberate on its meaning were more opposed to the war than their counterparts not exposed to newspapers. One contribution of this book is to bring the perspective of dual process models to theorize about which citizens, in this time period, would be able to r

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