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Is Network News Coverage of the President Biased?

Tim Groeling and Samuel Kernell
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 60, No. 4 (Nov., 1998), pp. 1063-1087
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2647731
Page Count: 25
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Is Network News Coverage of the President Biased?
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Abstract

In recent years presidential charges of maltreatment by the press have become commonplace Various scholarly research into political communication appears to confirm the validity of these charges. However, a number of issues prevent one from inferring bias from the high levels of unfavorable presidential news these studies report. The research reported here is designed to overcome these problems and allow us to test the bias hypothesis more conclusively. Applying this design to the three networks' evening news programs during the years 1990 through 1995, we find qualified support for the bias hypothesis but even more compelling evidence that changes in presidential approval, whether favorable or unfavorable, drive news coverage of the president's public support. We also find surprising differences in the networks' routines and patterns of coverage that call into question the common assumption of homogenous network behavior.

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