, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 441-464
Date: 21 Apr 2007

The Messenger Overwhelming the Message: Ideological Cues and Perceptions of Bias in Television News

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Abstract

Survey research has demonstrated that citizens perceive ideological bias in television news, specifically with regard to CNN and Fox News Channel (FNC), which allegedly represent the liberal and conservative viewpoint, respectively. In this paper I argue that attaching the CNN and FNC labels to news stories sends an ideological cue to the viewer regarding the content of the story. Utilizing an experimental design that allows manipulation of the network attribution of actual FNC and CNN content, I am able to demonstrate that the CNN and FNC labels function as ideological signals to the viewer, with this signal being most pronounced among ideologues whose views are supposedly at odds with those attributed to the network.