Campaign Lessons for ’92

This Shorenstein Center report examines media coverage of the 1988 presidential election and proposes recommendations for campaign coverage moving forward. In the aftermath of the 1988 election, Republicans wondered how the personal background of  vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle could, for a time, sweep away all other issues in the campaign. Democrats mused bitterly about the effectiveness of negative advertising directed at nominee Michael Dukakis. Journalists wondered whether they were among the ones culpable in the decline of American political discourse. Did political advertising take the place of reportage? Was there too much focus on the horse race? Did reporters fail to scrutinize the assertions of candidates? This report identifies specific problems that arose in the 1988 election, and provides recommendations for campaign coverage moving forward.

Download the report (PDF).