Professor Mark PeffleyPolitical Science 475GWhy Americans Hate the Mediaand How It Matters, chs 5-8
Party Polarization Trends in the U.S.House Major Patterns Both parties have become more ideologically polarized in the last 40 years. Congressional Republicans have moved further to the right than Democrats to the left during this period; moderate Republicans have virtually disappeared from Congress. Most of the change among congressional Democrats can be attributed to the loss of moderate-to-conservative Southern Democrats. Overall, the parties are now ideologically homogenous and distant from one another. Bipartisan agreements to fix the budgetary problems of the country are now almost impossible to reach. Little hope for change, with steady trends toward polarization driven by underlying structural economic and social factors— income inequality, cultural conflict, and “hot button” issues such as abortion.
Same Information presented a different way: Degree ofpolarization (Ideological Distance) between parties inHouse.
Questions for Why Americans Hatethe Media and How It MattersChs 5-8
Chapter 5 What causes people to distrust the media? What are the possibilities that we’ve considered so far? Trends in styles of news coverage? Ideologues? Elite criticism
Survey experiments Survey experiments: hybrid method, an experiment that is administered to a representative population sample. Internal validity (random assignment of respondents to infer “what causes what”) AND External validity (diverse, adult random samples allow one to generalize to population of interest)
Example: Vesla M. Weaver, “Race, Skin Color, and Candidate Preference” Light-skinned Black Candidate: + + A E F Dark-skinned Black Candidate1: + + E F G The dark-black candidate was purposefully generated from all black images so that he is different from the light-skinned black candidate in both complexion and phenotype (his nose and lips are more afrocentric). The hair and eyebrows of the light-skinned candidate have also been digitally lightened 1 .
Vesla M. Weaver, “Race, Skin Color, and Candidate Preference” Appendix I. Morphed Images For each candidate, 3 images were morphed.1 This procedure removes distinctive features and creates a very “average” face; it also increases attractiveness. Because each candidate shares 2 images, the resulting faces are extremely similar while appearing to be distinct individuals. This methodology diminishes the likelihood that support differentials across treatment groups are due to different target candidates. White Candidate 1: + + A B C White Candidate 2: + + A B D
Survey experiments Example: Rashotte and Webster (2005): Do people rate males higher in intelligence and competence than females? Lab experiment with college students: Participants were presented with a picture of a male or female individual, David or Diane. The photos were taken from a public website, www.hotornot.com, where, for inexplicable reasons, people post their pictures to be rated by anonymous others. Use photos rated average in attractiveness to control for that. Both males & females gave higher competence ratings to David than Diane, regardless of whether they stated beliefs in gender equality or not. Replication in the general population: Their findings on gender did not generalize to the general population. Age of the target had a much stronger impact than gender did, and the findings for gender varied based on whether people were evaluating intelligence, competence, or some other dimension of status. Older men and women were consistently rated as more competent than younger men and women.
Ladd’s Survey experiments, 2007, 2008What causes people to distrust the media? Internet survey, Knowledge Networks. TESS (TIME- SHARING EXPERIMENTS FOR THE SOCIAL SCIENCES). Two questions: 1. First, randomly assign respondents to different descriptions of news stories and elite criticisms to see what types of people are influenced by what types of news stories. 2. Second, feeling thermometer ratings of the news media.
Variants of treatments First question: 6 different versions randomly assigned. Control (no story described): Everyone receives this intro. "We are interested in how well the news media gets information out to the public. There are so many news stories these days that most people have trouble following them all. Have you been following stories in the news media recently?“ Recently, the media has reported stories that criticize both President Bush and the Democrats in Congress. Recently, the media has reported on President Bushs standing in opinion polls, especially when his popularity has increased and decreased. Have you heard these stories?“ Recently, the media has reported on the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Have you heard this story?“ Recently, Republican politicians have criticized the media for being overly critical of President Bush. Have you heard this story?“ Recently, Democratic politicians have criticized the media for being too friendly with President Bush. Have you heard this story?“ Second question: media evaluation "Wed like you to rate the news media on a scale we call a feeling thermometer. It runs from 0 to 100 degrees. Ratings between 50 degrees and 100 degrees mean that you feel favorable toward the news media. Ratings between 0 degrees and 50 degrees mean that you feel unfavorable toward the news media…
Findings What types of stories make what types of people more unfavorable toward the media?
Average effects of types of stories for everyone (Dems &Reps): Ignoring differences across types of respondents Why look at everyone, and then at Democrats & Republicans who are educated and ideological?
Types of stories and types of people• What differences do you see across parties and how do you explain them?• Why are Republicans more unfavorable toward the news media for horserace stories, for example?
Exploring another wrinkle with areplication in March, 2008. Three more versions to assess the impact of “news bias:” (Coverage favors Democrats):Recently, the news media has reported stories critical of President Bush and supportive of the Democratic majority in Congress. Have you seen these stories? (Coverage favors Republicans): Recently, the news media has reported stories supportive of President Bush and critical of the Democratic majority in Congress. (Control, Coverage): Recently, the news media has reported stories about President Bush and the Democratic majority in Congress. Findings: No effect. Disapproval of media did not vary across stories or people, so “news bias didn’t have effect on approval of media.” Question: Do you agree?
Limitations of Ladd’s survey experiments In replication, Ladd is measuring news slant (e.g., Dems more favorable coverage than Bush) versus political news bias. Survey experiments (versus lab experiments) are more influenced by the real world. Respondents are not a blank slate. By 2007, 2008, Dems & Reps were already set in their views and manipulations of stories about slant/bias may have had little effect. Asking people about a type of story is not the same as exposing them to an actual story. Trade-off between internal and external validity. See Arceneaux’s study of partisan media where participants watch either Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Maddox.
Survey on Political Internet and TalkRadio Use and Media Trust 2008: Read, watched or listened to information on the Internet about the campaign? Republicans less trusting of media if got their news from Internet. What causes what? Internal validity? Selection bias. 1996, 2000: Republicans listening to talk radio everyday less trusting of media. Internal validity? Selection bias. (likely) Exposure tapped by asking how many hours drive everyday. What is selection bias, and why is it important for studies of media effects?
Ch. 6. News Media Trust & PoliticalLearning Why is it difficult to detect media effects on public opinion? List several reasons.
Learning about broad national conditions in2000, at the end of Clinton’s 2 terms Do partisans who distrust the news rely more on their partisanship to assess objective conditions? Question: Since 1992, would you say [deficit, economy, crime, etc.] has gotten better, worse or has not changed? Correct Answer: Objectively speaking, by 2000, the correct answer to many questions is that things got better by 2000. Note:Is this an equal “test” for Democrats and Republicans? Why or why not? Democrats find it easier to learn information congenial to their partisan biases, so the real test is for Republicans, who may find it hard to admit.
On average, Republicans who trust the media are more likelyto acknowledge that... Click to edit Master text styles Second level Third level ▪ Fourth level ▪ Fifth level • Controlling for political knowledge. • Why don’t Democrats move? • What’s the matter with Republicans? • Limitations? • Static • Selection bias • Memory
Panel study, measuring how perceptionsof current conditions change, not recall Among those who trust media, between 2000 and 2002, become more worried about conventional and nuclear war. Which means? Limitations?
Over time, low confidence in press use of other news sources to follow campaign Click to edit Mas Reading mainstream magazine. ter text styles Second level Third level Reading partisan magazine ▪ Fourth level ▪ Fifth level People with low confidence in the press are more likely to gravitate toward magazines with a clear policy agenda.
Summary People who distrust the press are more resistant to new information about the state of the nation in major policy areas because: less influenced by mainstream press. more likely to turn to more opinionated sources of news (e.g., Internet and partisan news like Fox and MSNBC).
Iyengar: Appendix to Ch. 8 Partisan differences in acceptance of Iraq War messages Even after revelations by several U.S. government & international commissions, Republicans still resisted those media messages. Why?
Misperceptions Tied to Particular news Outlets? (3 to 6 months after the Iraq invasion) But not a causal relationship
Misperceptions in 2004 still common, more partisan with the election2004 election, almost 2 years after the Iraq invasion, Republicans still more misinformed. 2005, 2006
Why such polarized perceptions? Different information source: Republicans more misinformed if they watched Fox News. Resistance to contrary information: Even if Republicans read newspapers and were presumably exposed to the same messages from the mainstream news, they resisted the message. Other questions: What is the impact of partisan news? Are Republicans more resistant than Democrats on other issues?
Tone of network news coverage in 2012(Pew content analysis study) Horserace Campaign Stories Whoa! Looks like Romney got the 60 shaft, but this was only when adding 50 in horserace coverage. 40 ObamaPercent 30 Romney 20 10 0 Positive Mixed Negative After removing horserace coverage, Tone of Coverage things were pretty even, similar to prior years (except 2008, more pro- 60 Non-Horserace Campaign Stories Obama). 50 40 Obama 30 The study of tone in news coverage is not an Romney 20 examination of media bias. Rather, it measures the overall impression the public is receiving in media 10 about each candidate, whether the assertion is a quote from a source, a fact presented in the narrative that is 0 determined to be favorable or unfavorable, including Positive Mixed Negative poll results, or is part of a journalistic analysis.
Partisan News (MSNBC, Fox) coverage is mostlynegative on the opposition candidate(Pew content analysis study)
Social media vs. mainstream media:(Pew content analysis study) Social media: Relentlessly negative & relatively unmoved by campaign events
Media Effects: The Incivility of Talk Shows DecreasesPolitical Trust (Diana Mutz, 2005) Professional actors were hired to play the roles of two congressional candidates. A television studio with a political talk show set was used to tape a Incivility of mock program in which the disagreements Keith Obermann appeared. & Bill O’Reilly Two versions of each exchange were taped on the talk show set. Same political content in the civil and uncivil versions of the discussion, teleprompters were used to help the actors adhere closely to a script. Adult subjects were recruited through temporary employment agencies
Experimental Manipulation:Randomly assigned to watch either the civil or uncivilversion of the talk showCivil Version Uncivil Version Verbal examples: “I’m really glad Bob raised the issue of . . .” “I don’t disagree with all of your points, Verbal examples: Bob, but . . .” “You’re really missing the point here Neil” Civil Interaction “What Bob is completely overlooking is. . . . ” Calmly making their own positions Uncivil interaction clear. Raised their voices Waiting patiently while the other Never apologized for interrupting one another. person answered Rolling of the eyes and rueful shaking of the head Paying attention to the opponent while from side to side. he was speaking. Voices were raised when conflict intensified.
Effects of Incivility on Trust inGovernment and Politicians
Size of Effect on Trust (Civil–UncivilPresentation) by Level of Conflict Avoidance
Physiological Arousal by Civil andUncivil Conditions
What are the effects of partisan news?Kevin Arceneaux Forcing people to watch uncivil talk shows, via random assignment, may overstate the effects. Hyperchoice environment: If people can choose which partisan show to watch, the show may just be “preaching to the choir.” Who is more News seekers vs. Entertainment seekers News Seekers: Preaching to the choir vs. Reject out of hand
The Effect of Partisan News Shows on the Extremity of Issue Attitudes in Choice Environment Fall 2009 Selective Exposure Experiment • The bars represent the degree to which liberals and conservatives become more ideologically Click to edit Master text styles extreme in their responses after watching partisan news (Bill Second level O’Reilly vs. Lawrence O’Donnell) compared to an entertainment Third level show (the control, Pet Star on ▪ Fourth level Animal Planet). ▪ Fifth level • When people are exposed to a partisan news show on health care, their views become more extreme. • However, if people are given a choice to watch a show they agree with the effect is much more limited because the show is “preaching to the choir.”
The Polarizing Effects of Partisan News on Tax PolicyAttitudes, among News-seekers vs. Entertainment-seekers, Fall 2011 The bars represent the degree to which liberals and conservatives become more ideologically extreme in their responses after watching partisan news compared to an entertainment show (the control, Pet Star on Animal Planet). • Entertainment--seekers (people who prefer entertainment shows) are much more likely than News-seekers to become more extreme after watching partisan news. • Among News-seekers, watching counterattitudinal news that goes against their ideology affects them more, making them more extreme when they defend their attitudes. Proattitudinal partisan news that is consistent with their ideology has little effect because it’s “preaching to the choir”.