Writing JFK
Presidential Rhetoric and the Press in the Bay of Pigs Crisis
Presidential Studies - Rhetoric
5.5 x 8.5, 152 pp.
1 b&w photo., Frontis.
Pub Date: 11/17/2003
Library of Presidential Rhetoric
  cloth
Price:        $29.95 s

978-1-58544-276-8
  paper
Price:        $14.95

978-1-58544-281-2

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2004 Everett Lee Hunt Award, presented by the Eastern Communication Association

Writing JFK

Presidential Rhetoric and the Press in the Bay of Pigs Crisis

By Thomas W. Benson

Following the dramatic Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, President John F. Kennedy moved to repair the damage the invasion had done to his image and to his relations with the press. Thomas W. Benson examines two speeches and a press conference held by JFK in the days after the crisis, shedding light on how the structures of speech writing influence the texts of the speeches and policy formation, as well as the ways the press mediates and even helps to formulate presidential rhetoric.

Writing JFK: Speechwriting and the Press in the Bay of Pigs Crisis provides the full text of both speeches and the press conference, as well as Benson’s analysis of what would come to be known as “spin control.” He demonstrates how the speeches display the implicit collaboration of Kennedy with his speech writers and the press to create a depiction of Kennedy as a political and moral agent. A central feature of the book is Benson’s exploration of “the enormous power of the presidency to compel press restraint and to command the powers of publicity.”

In this brief but intensive examination, Benson holds a magnifying glass of rhetorical inquiry to the processes of contemporary government. These speeches have never before been studied in such depth, and Benson has drawn on many sources to arrive at unique historical and critical understanding of them. The resulting insight into the relationship among the press, politics, and public policy will appeal to all those interested in politics and rhetoric, the power of the American president, and the legacy of JFK.

Thomas W. Benson, the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Rhetoric at Pennsylvania State University, holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University. A rhetorical critic and theorist, he is the editor of the series in Rhetoric/Communication of the University of South Carolina Press and has won a number of awards from communication associations.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Offers a brief but intensive study of specific rhetorical texts, and it is grounded in solid research in both primary and secondary sources.”--David Zarefsky, Northwestern University

“Offers a brief but intensive study of specific rhetorical texts, and it is grounded in solid research in both primary and secondary sources.” --David Zarefsky, Northwestern University

“Clear and well organized. This is an excellent example of historical/critical research by an excellent scholar. I can think of no books that cover this particular subject in this way . . . a wonderful example of first rate scholarship by a first-rate scholar.” --Richard J. Jensen, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“In this brief but intensive examination, Benson holds a magnifying glass of rhetorical inquiry to the process of contemporary government. These speeches have never before been studied in such depth, and Benson has drawn on many sources to arrive at unique historical and critical understanding of them.” --McCormick Messenger

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