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Intertextuality and the 24-Hour News Cycle

A Day in the Rhetorical Life of Colin Powell's U.N. Address

John Oddo

Publication Year: 2014

On a cold Wednesday morning in February 2003 Colin Powell argued before the United Nations Security Council that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction. Before the speech, nearly 90 percent of Americans reported that Powell’s speech would help them determine their view about invading Iraq. In the days after the speech, a strong majority of Americans reported that they found Powell’s evidence convincing enough to justify war. But most American adults did not watch Powell’s speech. Instead, they learned about it from journalists—and to a large extent formed their opinions about war with Iraq based on news coverage of his address. In Intertextuality and the 24-Hour News Cycle John Oddo investigates the “rhetorical life” of Colin Powell’s address as it was extended across several media reports. Focusing on one day of pre- and postspeech news coverage, Oddo examines how journalists influenced Powell’s presentation— precontextualizing and recontextualizing his speech, and prepositioning and repositioning audiences to respond to it. The book surveys a variety of news media (television, newspaper, and Internet) and systematically integrates several methodological approaches (critical, rhetorical, discourse-analytic, and multimodal). This revealing text shows the decisive role that journalists played in shaping American attitudes about Powell, his presentation, and the desirability of war in Iraq.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title Page, Copyrigth Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Tables

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I could not have written this book without the feedback and support of many wonderful people. First, I would like to thank editor Martin Medhurst for backing this project and guiding me throughout the revision process. I am also deeply grateful to the three anonymous reviewers for their discerning remarks on earlier drafts of this work....

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Notational Scheme

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pp. xi-xii

After each excerpt from a given news report, you will note a parenthetical citation with the following information: journalistic institution, the date of the report, and the speaker or writer of the discourse. Thus, the following parenthetical— (NBC/2.5/AM)— refers to the NBC television news broadcast on February 5, 2003, and, more specifically, to Andrea Mitchell’s...

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Introduction. The Rhetorical Life of Colin Powell’s U.N. Speech

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pp. 1-22

On the morning of 5 February 2003— a Wednesday— Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations Security Council in New York City. In a nearly 90- minute PowerPoint presentation, Powell argued that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction from inspectors in direct violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. These weapons posed a significant threat to world peace, Powell...

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Chapter One. The Campaign for War in Iraq: Contextualizing Powell’s Speech in Political and Media Discourse

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pp. 23-44

On February 24, 2001, Colin Powell indicated to reporters that economic sanctions against Iraq had worked: Saddam Hussein posed no significant threat to the Gulf region, let alone to the United States. As Powell put it, “[Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction....

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Chapter Two. The Chief Prosecutor and the Iraqi Regime: Intertextual Ethos and Transitive Chains of Authority

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pp. 45-76

Several sources have suggested that George W. Bush deliberately chose Colin Powell to deliver the U.N. address because Powell, unlike other members of the Bush team, had a sterling public reputation. As Isikoff and Corn (2006) put it: “The idea— not a subtle one— was to attach Powell’s credibility to the case for war” (174). Similarly, Unger (2007) argues that the lack of evidence in Powell’s...

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Chapter Three. Undercutting Saddam’s Denials: Precontextualization and Audience Alignment

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pp. 77-128

Recontextualization involves extracting elements from one context and relocating them in another (Bauman & Briggs 1990; Linell 1998). Thus, a journalist reporting Colin Powell’s speech necessarily recontextualizes that speech— extracting Powell’s words from his address and relocating them in a given news narrative. Importantly, this kind of reporting is oriented towards the past. However, as Bakhtin (1981) notes, discourse is not only “oriented toward the ‘already...

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Chapter Four. America’s Best Intelligence: Recontextualization and Rhetorical Transformation

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pp. 129-174

Chapter 3 focused on how journalists projected a future rhetorical event and pre- positioned audiences to adopt certain attitudes toward Powell and his rhetoric. I termed this type of anticipatory intertextuality “precontextualization.” In a sense, journalists pre- formed Colin Powell’s address— construing it as a “real thing” even before it took place. The present chapter shifts focus to how journalists...

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Chapter Five. Political Discourse, the Press, and the Public Good

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pp. 175-198

This book has examined twenty- four hours in the extended rhetorical life of Colin Powell’s U.N. address. Specifically, I have investigated how Powell’s multimodal presentation was transformed as it was pre- and recontextualized in various mainstream news narratives. At the same time, I have studied how, as a consequence of...

Appendix A. Data Corpus

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pp. 199-200

Appendix B. Synoptic Views of Discourse

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pp. 201-216

Appendix C. Intertextual Precedents for Powell’s Arguments

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pp. 217-238

Appendix D. Attitudinal Discourse in Linguistic and Multimodal Texts

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pp. 239-246

Appendix E. Attitudes about Powell and Iraq

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pp. 247-250

Appendix F. Conventions of Precontextualizationin Mainstream Journalism

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pp. 251-254

Appendix G. The Engagement System, Temporality, and Presence

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pp. 255-260

Appendix H. Coding Categories for Audience Repositioning

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pp. 261-270

Appendix I. A Four- Phased Analytic Approach

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pp. 271-278


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pp. 279-310


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pp. 311-346


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pp. 347-369

E-ISBN-13: 9781609174262
E-ISBN-10: 1609174267
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611861402
Print-ISBN-10: 1611861403

Page Count: 381
Illustrations: 36
Publication Year: 2014