Apple, R. W. Jr., "Candidates' Transgressions Loom Large on Home Screen," New York Times,

 

Apple, R. W. Jr., "Candidates' Transgressions Loom Large on Home Screen," New York Times,
27 September 1987, p. E1.

Here is a lead item in the News of the Week in Review concerning the resignation from the
presidential nomination race of Senator Biden of Delaware. This reporter does not interpret
Biden's withdrawal as a result of anything the media did to him but as a result of Biden's failure
of what is called, here, a "Character Test." Apple would have it that the public has been
repeatedly disillusioned by recent presidents: Johnson, Viet Nam; Nixon, Watergate; Carter, the
Iran hostages; and Reagan, the Iran-Contra connection. It is hard for me to see how the hostage
situation with which Carter had to deal is anything at all like these others but, be that as it may,
this reporter feels that the public has been sensitized and now looks carefully on the past
behaviors of candidates so as to predict how they will do in a crisis to come. This is a matter of
"presidential personality."

It is newsmaking and image structuring that is the main issue here. The images projected by
Biden and Hart are such that they cannot maintain their presidential image. One has a zipper flaw
and the other one lies. It was the media which made much of Biden's speeches, his phonying of
his academic record, and his plagiary while a first year student in law school. Today, one must be
acceptable to the media first and then, perhaps, one can be made acceptable to the public. Flaws
in presidential personalities are media events and newsmen are in the business to create them.