Political Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 29–50 | Cite as

The Neglected Power of Elite Opinion Leadership to Produce Antipathy Toward the News Media: Evidence from a Survey Experiment

Original Paper

Abstract

Today, most Americans dislike the news media as an institution. This has led to considerable debate about why people dislike the media and how their public standing could be improved. This paper contributes to this literature by using a survey experiment to test the effect of several different considerations on evaluations of the media. It finds, consistent with the broader literature on political persuasion, that elite partisan opinion leadership can powerfully shape these attitudes. Additionally, it finds that tabloid coverage creates antipathy toward the press regardless of predispositions and that horserace coverage has a negative effect on opinions among politically aware citizens on both sides of the political spectrum. Contrary to some claims in the literature, this study finds no detectable effect of news negativity.

Keywords

News media Trust Party cues Survey experiment Public opinion Media bias 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I thank Doris Graber, Gabriel Lenz, and participants in the Georgetown Political Economy Faculty Seminar for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper and Georgetown University for financial support. All remaining errors are my own.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Government and Georgetown Public Policy InstituteGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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