Document Type


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Journal Title

Presidential Studies Quarterly

Publication Date



Content analysis of network evening news coverage during the first year of the Barack Obama presidency revealed coverage that was far more positive in tone than comparable news reports from the first years of the Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush presidencies. Both domestic and international policy evaluations of the Obama presidency were more positive in tone than those of the last three presidents to take office during partisan transfers of power. The findings reveal a revival of the media honeymoon that scholars thought had disappeared during the modern era of a more combative press. An investigation of the “beat sweetening” hypothesis reveals mixed results, suggesting the need for further investigation.

Publisher Statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Farnsworth, S. J. and Lichter, S. R. (2011), The Contemporary Presidency: The Return of the Honeymoon: Television News Coverage of New Presidents, 1981-2009. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 41: 590–603, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.