Congress, the Press, and Political Accountability. By R.
Douglas Arnold. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004. 296p. $52.50
cloth, $22.95 paper.
The relationship between members of Congress and local media outlets
has long been understudied by political scientists. This failure to fully
explore one of the critical links between citizens and their
representatives has left us with an incomplete understanding of how, or
even whether, the local news media facilitate representation and
accountability. R. Douglas Arnold's new book takes a significant step
toward addressing this gap with an ambitious and rich study of the local
news media's role in providing (or not providing) the information
necessary for citizens to hold their elected officials accountable. While
Arnold notes that citizens may receive information about their House
members from various sources, he argues that local newspapers are unique
among these information providers because, ideally, they act as
independent monitors as well as forums for the airing of diverse opinions.
Ultimately, however, he finds that many newspapers fall far short of this
ideal by failing to produce adequate congressional coverage.