“The White House as a Black Box”

The White House as a Black Box: Oral History and the Problem of Evidence in Presidential Sources by Russell Riley explores the varying degree of sources available from the White House in presidential studies. Riley’s main argument is that there is very little direct evidence available to the American public from the white house. Scholars of the field must rely on indirect evidence of outputs. These outputs include, official outputs, the press, internal paperwork, and memoirs. Official outputs include speech and press conferences that reveal very little about actual interactions within the white house. The press is the ultimate shaper of perception because it represents the face of the white house. The press has many implications along with it like low accuracy and no accountability. Next Riley discusses the issues and uses of internal documents/paperwork. For this, they are harder information for the public to see do to the strict accessibility of the E013233 from the Bush administration that required new procedures for president records to gain clearance. This resulted in a large restriction of the press. Following a discussion on the use of memoirs, Riley ends this essay on discussing the important uses of oral histories in this particular field. Since there is such little evidence from inside white house sources, the dependency and reliability of oral histories in conjunction with the available scholarship. However, like any other source there are issues of inaccuracy and biased motives. Regardless, oral histories help to substitute when there is a lack of information available in presidential studies.

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