The Public Interest

Politics, nonpartisanship, and the public service

Edward J. Lynch

Winter 1990

AS PRESIDENT Ronald Reagan left office, he lamented that his administration had been hampered by what he called the “iron triangle” of special-interest groups, congressional cliques, and the media. Reagan did not coin the term, but he did break ground by designating the media (instead of the career civil service) as one of the triangle’s sides. Perhaps Reagan thought that to retain the bureaucracy in the iron triangle would have been to concede that neither he nor his appointees had ever fully controlled the executive branch.

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