Democratic politics places emphasis on the mass media as a site for democratic demand and the formation of "public opinion". The media are seen to empower citizens, and subject government to restraint and redress. Yet the media]political are not just neutral observers but are political actors themselves. The interaction of mass communication and political actors -- politicians, interest groups, strategists, and others who play important roles -- in the political process is apparent. Under this framework, the American political arena can be characterized as a dynamic environment in which communication, particularly journalism in all its forms, substantially influences and is influenced by it.