Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Political Science (MA)

Degree Level



Political Science


Patrick Stewart

Committee Member

Burcu Bayram

Second Committee Member

Andrew Dowdle


Aggressive Journalism, Conversation Analysis, Joint Press Conferences, Journalistic Questioning, Political Discourse Analysis, Watchdog Journalism


This study evaluates the relationship between the press and political leaders during joint press conferences. Aggressive journalistic questioning in press conferences has increased over time (Clayman & Heritage, 2002; Clayman, Elliott, Heritage, & McDonald, 2004; Clayman, Elliott, Heritage, & McDonald, 2007), but recent scholarships shows that journalists present less aggressive questions when a foreign head of state is present (Banning & Billingsley, 2007). Joint press conferences hosted in the United States by President Donald Trump between Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, respectively, were analyzed via conversation analysis based on a question analysis framework by Clayman, Elliott, Heritage, and McDonald (2004) and equivocation typologies by Bull and Mayer (1993). First, journalists’ questions were evaluated on five different measures – initiative, directness, assertiveness, adversarialness, and accountability. Next, political leaders’ answers were assessed on three different categories – replies, intermediate replies, and non-replies. Results of the study showed foreign journalists in these joint press conferences aggressively pursued politicians more than their U.S. counterparts. Additionally, political leaders were less likely to respond to journalists’ questions with a reply than with intermediate or non-replies. This study provides perspective on the current state of press-state relations in democratic systems and the way journalists conduct themselves on the international stage with U.S. and foreign leaders.