"Where is Jack Bauer when you need him?" the uses of television drama in mediated political discourse

Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This article explores the myriad uses of television drama in mediated political discourse using the case study of 24, Fox's counterterrorism drama. It examines references to 24 in articles and columns of nine major daily newspapers, magazines, and political Web sites from 2001 to 2007 and demonstrates how the show was invoked to support and express different political opinions, how political identity and media preferences were reconciled, and how different categories of use interacted with different political allegiances, as well as different assumptions about the ontological and epistemological status of the show. The study shows that while, at one level, fictional events and characters can function in political discourse in similar ways to nonfictional people and events, the "ontological openness" of politically relevant fictional texts serves as a resource for political discourse that is not readily available through nonfiction media texts. Finally, this article is an attempt to revisit and develop the concept of inter-textuality as a way to account for the complex interactions within the contemporary media environment, analyze media-related practices beyond direct viewing experiences, and bridge text-centered and audience-centered approaches to communication studies. Within this framework, journalists and political commentators are viewed as both mediators of other media texts for their audiences and as audiences in their own right who use these popular texts to negotiate and express their own identities and ideologies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)367-387
Number of pages21
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • 24
  • Inter-textuality
  • Journalists
  • Political discourse
  • Political identity
  • Television drama
  • Torture


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