Breaking Boundaries| Political Interviews: Examining Perceived Media Bias and Effects Across TV Entertainment Formats

Lindsay Hoffman


Americans’ confidence in news is at an all-time low, and many are turning to entertaining programming, such as cable-talk programs like Hannity or political-satire programs like The Daily Show. These programs regularly feature interviews with public officials, potential candidates, and celebrities. In this new hybrid news-entertainment environment, what are the effects on citizens’ perceptions of media bias and its effects on themselves, as well as others? This study, combined with results from a qualitative analysis (Baym, this special section), demonstrates that different program brands have different effects on perceptions of bias and effects. Respondents were randomly assigned to view an interview with a potential 2012 presidential candidate, and results demonstrated significant differences among them in perceived bias toward the candidate. Perceptions of the candidate, the host, and the program’s makers also differed significantly across the program conditions. Implications for media effects research are discussed.

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