Political Scandals in the Modern Media Environment: Applying a New Analytical Framework to Hillary Clinton’s Whitewater and E-Mail Scandals

Diana Zulli


Scholars have long been interested in political scandals. Yet many analyses focus on a single scandal to better understand the rhetorical features, responses, or effects. This study takes a different approach by studying how different media environments affect the nature of news reporting during political scandals. To do so, I specify three measurable parameters that detail the shifts from traditional to digital media: interactivity, personalization, and liveness. I use this framework to analyze two Hillary Clinton scandals that occurred in different media environments: Whitewater and the e-mail use scandal. The results indicate somewhat greater interactivity in the modern media era. Journalists are also increasingly personalizing their political scandal interpretations and having less contextualized and in-depth discussions. The implications of these shifts are discussed.


political scandals, Hillary Clinton, news reporting, journalism, content analysis

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