"Media pressure" is often implicated in changes to national security policies. This study explicates a theory of media pressure - what it is, how it works, how it can be measured - based in part on the new field of "Positioning theory" in discursive psychology. It treats the media and the executive as being in a never-ending conversation that has the power to undermine the reputation of the government and hence threaten its needed coalitions. The study tests the positioning hypothesis against both the US and the British decisions to intervene with operation provide conflict in Iraq and Turkey in 1991. The study results in the first independent and comparative measure of media pressure vs. media coverage and sets an agenda for future work of possible interest to those studying international elections, media studies, security studies, foreign policy decisionmaking or qualitative research methods