2017-05-12 / Community

Jennifer Hopper to speak on the politics of Obamacare at Community Church


Jennifer Hopper Jennifer Hopper On Sunday, May 14th at 9:15 – 10:15 AM, Ms. Jennifer Hopper will lead the Sunday Forum Series at Garden City Community Church (GCCC) in the church parlor on “The Politics of Obamacare”.

Ms. Jennifer Hopper is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), where she specializes in the American presidency, mass media, and political communication. She teaches courses on U.S. government, the presidency, Congress, and the news media, as well as courses focused on the broader political environment and studying political parties, interest groups, social movements, and public policy.

Ms. Hopper will be talking about the Obama Administration’s efforts to turn the term “Obamacare,” a nickname that critics originally invented for the Affordable Care Act, into a positive as the White House sought to build support for health care reform during Obama’s term. She will use that case to discuss presidential efforts to shape news coverage of the health care law over time, including recent efforts by the Trump Administration and Congress to repeal the law.

Ms. Hopper is the author of the newly published book, “Presidential Framing in the 21st Century News Media: The Politics of the Affordable Care Act.” Her book “engages with current events in American politics, focusing on the Obama Administration and the Affordable Care Act, while also reflecting upon the state of the American presidency, the news media, and the public in ways that have substantial implications for all of these actors, not merely in the present, but into the future, making it a compelling read for scholars of Political Science, Media Studies, Communication Studies, and Public Policy.”

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act came into existence at a time when the president’s ability to lead the public was in question, political polarization had intensified, and the media environment appeared ever more fragmented, fast-moving, and resistant to control. Under such circumstances, how can contemporary American presidents such as Barack Obama build and maintain support for themselves and their policies, particularly as controversies arise?”

“Using case studies of major contests over how key elements of the Affordable Care Act would be framed, and analysis of how those frames fared in influential and popular U.S. news sources, Hopper examines the conditions under which the president can effectively shape public debates today. She argues that despite the difficult political and communications context, the president retains substantial advantages in framing major controversial issues for the media and the public. These presidential framing advantages are conditional, however, and Hopper explores the factors that help make presidential frames more or less likely to gain hold in the news today. More so than in the past, an element of unpredictability in this news environment means that in pursuing favorable messaging, the president and his surrogates may also generate some unintentional consequences in how issues are portrayed to the public. Presidential frames can evolve with unfolding events to take on new meanings and applications, a process facilitated alternately by supporters, opponents, and media actors. Still, media figures and political opponents remain largely reactive to presidential communications, even as some seek to publicize and exploit weaknesses in the administration’s narratives. A close look at these recent cases casts new light on the scholarly debate surrounding the president’s ability to persuasively communicate and challenges conventional wisdom that the 21st century media largely present an unmanageable news environment for the White House.”

Among her papers are, “’Obamacare’ and the Politics of Health Care Reform Rhetoric.” International Journal of Communication (2015), “Pardoning the President: President Clinton, the Lewinsky Scandal, and the Politics of Presidential Redemption.” White House Studies (2013)

Ms. Hopper was interviewed on World News the morning right after the 2016 presidential election, Ms. Hopper discussed, answered questions and gave her commentaries on the election results. She was also was interviewed on Fox 61 just hours after the third and final 2016 presidential debate. Ms. Hopper was among the panelists earlier that week at the SCSU forum, “Campaign 2016: It’s Complicated.”

Diane J. Heith, St. John’s University, commented, “Jennifer Hopper’s investigation of the Obama Administration’s efforts to manage the political debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act provides a welcome exploration of the influence and limitations of presidential leadership within the media marketplace in the post-broadcast age. Her careful and thoughtful analysis offers a new understanding of framing efforts and effects and sheds light on how even in a complicated media environment the president retains powerful advantages for advancing his agenda”.

Further on, Stephen Farnsworth, Professor of Political Science, University of Mary Washington & Former Chair, Political Communication Section, APSA, stated that “Presidential Framing in the 21st Century News Media does a wonderful job of analyzing President Obama’s herculean efforts to use the wide range of modern media outlets to sell and then re-sell the Affordable Care Act. From the challenges over framing the original bill and whether to embrace the term Obamacare to marketing health insurance to young adults on “Between Two Ferns,” this accessible and through book is a vital resource for students of political communication, journalism, the presidency and public policy”.

The Community is invited to attend the forum in the church parlor. The Garden City Community Church is part of the United Church of Christ and is an Open and Affirming congregation. Worship services are Sundays at 8:30 AM in the chapel and 10:30 AM in the sanctuary, with church school for children and a crib room for infants and toddlers during the latter service. Wednesday Service is at 8:00 PM at Gardner Hall. The Garden City Community Church is located at 245 Stewart Avenue and Whitehall Blvd. For more information, call 516-746-1700 or visit our website at www.gardencitycommunitychurch.org.

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