Partisan Differences in Opinionated News Perceptions: A Test of the Hostile Media Effect
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The proliferation of opinion and overt partisanship in cable news raises questions about how audiences perceive this content. Of particular interest is whether audiences effectively perceive bias in opinionated news programs, and the extent to which there are partisan differences in these perceptions. Results from a series of three online experiments produce evidence for a relative hostile media phenomenon in the context of opinionated news. Although, overall, audiences perceive more story and host bias in opinionated news than in non-opinionated news, these perceptions—particularly perceptions of the host—vary as a function of partisan agreement with the news content. Specifically, issue partisans appear to have a “bias against bias,” whereby they perceive less bias in opinionated news with which they are predisposed to agree than non-partisans and especially partisans on the other side of the issue.
KeywordsCable news Opinionated news Hostile media effect Selective perception Media bias
Funding for this research was provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education. The author is extremely grateful to Vincent Price, Joseph Cappella, and Michael Delli Carpini for their advice and encouragement throughout the project, and to the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on previous versions of this manuscript.
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