Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication

Document Type



This dissertation examines the public opinion-public policy nexus with regard to the making of U.S.-China policy during the Clinton administration (1992-2000). The researcher investigates how the mass media discourse on U.S.-China relations relates to the policy tradeoff between economic interdependence and confrontation on human rights. Particularly, the quantitative study of the media discourse is placed within a Communitarian perspective to determine: (1) whether the policy tradeoff can claim to have the support of public opinion; (2) whether the media discourse originated from the active civic participation; and (3) how the policy tradeoff broke its promise. As a result, the researcher concludes that the eclipse of co-operative inquiry of the U.S. public, the ascendancy of issue management of special stakeholders, and the entanglement between newsmaking and policy-making may have jeopardized the republican virtue of U.S. diplomacy. First, the researcher contextualizes U.S.-China relations and relates it to the dynamics of U.S. foreign policy choices among four national interests: power, prosperity, principle, and peace. Then, the researcher sets the Communitarian theory of the press as a normative theory of media democracy and incorporates other positive theories of political communication to make sense of the dilemma of the current media democracy. Following that, a content analysis of the New York Times and Cable News Network examined: (1) who said what; (2) which perspective prevails; (3) the correlation between newsmaking and policy-making; and (4) the congruence/dissension between policy beltway and other social groups. The finding suggests a significant correlation between/among the policy proposal, the author of that proposal, and the issue/frame espoused; on the other hand, the conspicuous differences among policy-makers, ordinary citizens (issue public), and professional communicators in regard to the policy trade-off indicates a low public accountability of the policy tradeoff. To explain the discrepancy, the investigator examined corporate America's issue management of U.S.-China trade and put the policy tradeoff into the perspective of capitalistic globalization theory. Finally, the lack of republican virtue is explained as a result of corporate-driven diplomacy and the media discourse short of civic participation. Henceforward, a Communitarian press becomes recommendable for the rejuvenation of media democracy.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Ralph Izard