In the post-9/11 atmosphere, a number of things changed in American society, including the relationship between the presidential administration and the news media. The Bush administration openly stated that it did not believe in the “check-and-balance” function of the Fourth Estate, an alarming assertion that turned out to be true. The press quickly realized that it had to be cautious when commenting the administration and its policies, because reporters who published critical stories experienced scrutiny attacks from administration officials. The justifications for the scrutiny were based on patriotism, loyalty to the president and national security. The fact that the White House regarded opposing views and criticism as hostile elements that needed to be counterattacked, and even censored, was not the only result of the post-9/11 era.
In addition to a higher lever of scrutiny, the press also faced an extremely disciplined White House administration in regard to information. In fact, this discipline bordered to pure secrecy at times, as the administration began reversing the country’s information laws and delayed the scheduled release of presidential papers. The record low number of press conferences with President Bush was another aspect that disappointed the press. ‘Secret’ tendencies were displayed during times of war as well, a factor that was deeply connected to the “Vietnam syndrome” theory.
Although members of the news media faced scrutiny attacks, criticism and an administration unwilling to share information, some forces in the national news media initiated a self-reflection process. One of the main arguments of the self-analysis was that the national news media failed to fulfill their “watchdog” duties, especially in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As numerous examples illustrated, the administration’s pro-war arguments were most often placed on the front pages, while articles that challenged those arguments ended up in the back sections of the newspapers. The thesis’ conclusion will sum up the main arguments, and propose solutions that the media and the White House could attempt to apply. These solutions might improve the future correspondence between two of America’s most significant institutions.