Charisma under Crisis: Presidential Leadership, Rhetoric, and Media Responses Before and After the September 11th Terrorist Attacks

Document Type



Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (CGU)

Publication Date



Organization Development | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Scholars since Weber have suggested that times of crisis may create an increased opportunity for charismatic leadership to emerge. We examine the rhetorical content of President George W. Bush's public speeches before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11th to determine if the context of crisis affected the President's communications with the American people. We also examined how the media's portrayal of President Bush may have changed after the crisis. Results suggest that the President's rhetorical language became more charismatic after the crisis of 9/11. In addition, the media's portrayal of Bush reflected a similar increase in charismatic rhetoric, suggesting an increased receptivity to a more charismatically based leadership relationship after the crisis.

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© 2004 Elsevier Inc