Political Behavior

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 441–464 | Cite as

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

  • Joel Turner
Original Paper


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.


Television news Ideological bias Heuristics 



I would like to thank Jeff Mondak for his guidance in this undertaking. I am also grateful to Bob Jackson, Rod Lewis, Charles Barrilleaux and the editors and anonymous reviewers for their constructive editorial and methodological advice, as well as Karen Halperin for her help in conducting the experiment. In addition, a tremendous amount of gratitude goes to Phil Streetman and WSST-TV 55 in Cordele, GA for their assistance in creating the news broadcast replications used in this study. A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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