Influence of Fake News Exposure on Perceived Media Bias: The Moderating Role of Party Identity
The phenomenon of fake news encompasses fabricated news-like content, but also the circulation of fake news-related narratives, and the (mis)use of the label to denigrate legitimate media. Building on this interdependent system of meanings, this article uses two-wave U.S. survey data (NW1 = 1,338; NW2 = 511) to examine the possible influence of (self-assessed) exposure to fake news content on general perceptions of media bias. The study also tested the moderating effects of party identity and strength of partisanship on the relationship between (self-assessed) fake news exposure and media bias perceptions. The results provide (a) strong support for (self-assessed) fake news exposure as a positive predictor of general perceptions of media bias (in cross-sectional, lagged, and autoregressive analyses) and (b) weak support for an interaction effect between (self-assessed) fake news exposure and Republican party identification on general evaluations of media bias (not robust across models).