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Performing Politics: Media Interviews, Debates and Press Conferences

Performing Politics: Media Interviews, Debates and Press Conferences

Geoffrey Craig

ISBN: 978-0-745-68965-4

Jun 2016, Polity

212 pages



For successful political leaders, public speaking is only half the battle. A good politician must also be a competent performer. Whether facing critical questions in an interview, posturing in a leaders’ debate, or conversing on a daytime chat show, success is reliant upon a candidate’s ability to dramatically but authentically impart a strong individual identity.
In this innovative analysis, Geoffrey Craig looks at the interrogative exchanges between politicians and journalists. The power struggles and evasions in these encounters often leave the public exasperated, but it is the politicians’ negotiation of these struggles that determines success. Drawing on analyses of the language and performances of leaders such as Barack Obama and David Cameron, Craig examines the particular kinds of interactions that occur across political interviews, debates, conferences, and talk shows. The political games that take place between politicians and journalists, he argues, constitute the true theatre of politics.
Engaging and insightful, Performing Politics will appeal to students and scholars of journalism, politics, linguistics, and media studies, as well as anyone concerned about the quality of contemporary political communication.

Preface and Acknowledgements 9

Chapter 1 Mediated Political Performance 16

Chapter 2 Political Games 36

Chapter 3 Political Interviews 58

Chapter 4 Leaders' Debates 83

Chapter 5 Press Conferences 108

Chapter 6 Current Affairs Forum Television 132

Chapter 7 Political Celebrity Interviews 154

Conclusion 178

References 189

Index 209

"How politicians perform seems to matter as much as what they claim to believe in. Crucial to the success of politicians’ performances is media representation. Geoffrey Craig’s analysis of this process of making political subjectivities visible is both highly perceptive and rigorously systematic. This book makes an important contribution to the growing literature on the cultural sociology of political performance."
Stephen Coleman, University of Leeds

"Geoffrey Craig’s study of broadcast political performance is a welcome addition to an expanding literature on the mediation of political communication and journalism. His cases and analyses will be essential reading for students of political communication in the age of mediation."
Brian McNair, Queensland University of Technology