In recent years, scholars have argued that the ability of people to choose which channel they want to watch means that television news is just preaching to the choir, and doesn’t change any minds. However, this book shows that the media still has an enormous direct impact on American society and politics.
While past research has emphasized the indirect effects of media content on attitudes – through priming or framing, for instance – Dan Cassino argues that past data on both the public opinion and the media side wasn’t detailed enough to uncover it. Using a combination of original national surveys, large scale content analysis of news coverage along with data sets as disparate as FBI gun background checks and campaign contribution records, Cassino discusses why it’s important to treat different media sources separately, estimating levels of ideological bias for television media sources as well as the differences in the topics that the various media sources cover. Taking this into account proves that exposure to some media sources can serve to actually make Americans less knowledgeable about current affairs, and more likely to buy into conspiracy theories.
Even in an era of declining viewership, the media – especially Fox News – are shaping our society and our politics. This book documents how this is happening, and shows the consequences for Americans. The quality of journalism is more than an academic question: when coverage focuses on questionable topics, or political bias, there are consequences.
Table of Contents
1. What’s in the Media? 2. Media Coverage and Presidential Approval 3. The 2012 Republican Primary Election 4. The 2012 Presidential Election 5. Is the News making you stupid? 6. Conspiracy Theories 7. The Media and Society 8. The Daily Show and Alternate Models of the Media
Dan Cassino is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Director of Experimental Research for the PublicMind poll. He conducts research on American politics and political psychology.
'Dan Cassino expands our understanding of Fox News’ impact on what Americans know about politics and how they respond to political events. Particularly fascinating is the way Prof. Cassino documents Fox’s impact on the 2012 Republican nomination; the dramatic changes in the candidates’ fortunes over time are much better understood by reading this book. But the bigger picture it paints is important as well: the influence of Fox News on American politics is not easily accounted for by simple media framing perspectives. Instead, as Prof. Cassino shows, Fox News not only sets agendas, but its coverage is also linked to measurable behaviors as the choices of what and how it covers politics seem to be able to move viewers with certain tendencies to action. This book will be a valuable addition to any reader’s collection on media and public opinion.' - David Redlawsk, Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University