The Power of Television: a Critical Analysis of Chapter 8 of Thirteen American Arguments

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About this sample


Words: 516 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Words: 516|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024


In Chapter 8 of Thirteen American Arguments, the author Howard Fineman delves into the pervasive influence of television in shaping public opinion and its impact on democracy. Through a blend of , cultural analysis, and critical reasoning, Fineman elucidates the complex relationship between television and American politics. This essay critically examines the central arguments presented in Chapter 8 and evaluates their validity and relevance in today's media landscape.
Fineman posits that television has become the preeminent medium in American society, surpassing traditional print media, radio, and even the internet. He argues that the visual and emotional impact of television enables it to garner immense attention and shape public discourse more effectively than any other medium. As evidence, Fineman cites the famous televised debates between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, which were pivotal in swaying public opinion in favor of Kennedy due to his polished appearance and charismatic demeanor. Moreover, he highlights how politicians' success often hinges on their telegenic qualities rather than their policy positions or expertise.
One of the key arguments put forth by Fineman is the superficial nature of television politics. He contends that the medium's reliance on attention-grabbing visuals and soundbites fosters a culture of image and spectacle, often overshadowing substantive policy debates. Fineman asserts that television favors those who possess charisma and performative skills over individuals with intellectual depth or policy expertise. By emphasizing the superficial aspects of politics, television risks perpetuating a contest of personalities rather than fostering an informed citizenry.
Another central theme of Fineman's analysis is the decline of substantive news coverage on television. He highlights how the commercialization and profit-driven nature of television networks have led to the commodification of news and the rise of infotainment. News programs are increasingly geared towards entertainment value rather than providing in-depth analysis and nuanced reporting. Fineman argues that this trend undermines the role of television as a watchdog of democracy, as it fails to hold political leaders accountable and inform the public about critical issues.
Fineman also tackles the role of cable news networks in exacerbating political polarization. He remarks that the advent of partisan cable news networks has created echo chambers that reinforce viewers' preexisting beliefs and opinions, leading to a sharp divide among Americans. Fineman criticizes the partisan nature of cable news networks as they prioritize ideological agendas over presenting objective facts. He warns that this polarization hinders constructive discourse, compromises democratic decision-making, and hampers the collective pursuit of truth.

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In conclusion, Chapter 8 of Thirteen American Arguments provides a thought-provoking analysis of the power dynamics and influence of television in shaping American politics. Fineman's arguments shed light on the superficiality of television politics, the diminishing quality of news coverage, and the polarizing effect of cable news networks. However, while television may wield significant influence, it is crucial for individuals to remain critical and discerning consumers of media. By demanding substantive political discourse and seeking diverse sources of information, citizens can navigate the complexities of television's impact and uphold the ideals of democracy. Recognizing the potential pitfalls and harnessing the power of television can ultimately lead to a more informed and engaged citizenry.

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Prof. Linda Burke

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The Power of Television: A Critical Analysis of Chapter 8 of Thirteen American Arguments. (2024, March 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“The Power of Television: A Critical Analysis of Chapter 8 of Thirteen American Arguments.” GradesFixer, 06 Mar. 2024,
The Power of Television: A Critical Analysis of Chapter 8 of Thirteen American Arguments. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2024].
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