The Media and Foreign Policy

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The Press and United States Policy in Chile in the 1970s

The primary political function of the free press is to act as a “watchdog” warning against abuses of power by the ruling elite.

As the “fourth estate”, the US press is expected to serve as a source of substantial information for citizens about political, social, and economic issues, to keep a critical eye on public officials and watch over the general public’s interests, and to provide a forum for free and honest debate.

In contrast, the other perspective is one that views the press as a “lapdog”, a close companion of established power.

According to this perspective, rather than serve as critic, the political function of the news media is to act as a more or less voluntary arm of established political and economic power.

The purpose of this book is to try to test, through the study of the US mainstream press’ reporting on Chile in the 1970’s, whether the “fourth estate” functions primarily as an instrument providing constraints on the power elite, or whether it serves to promote the interests of the powerful.

This book aims at helping academic political science and media researchers rethink the ambiguous relationship between the media and government in the field of foreign policy.

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