Frame Contestation in the News: National Identity, Cultural Resonance, and U.S. Drone Policy

Charles M. Rowling, Penelope Sheets, Timothy M. Jones


Scholarship suggests that disagreement among political officials significantly impacts how the press covers a particular policy issue and how the public perceives and comes to understand it. An unexplored area of research in the framing effects literature asks to what extent frame contestation impacts public opinion in moments of national transgressions—specifically, when the U.S. military has been accused of acts that potentially threaten the image of the nation. We, therefore, conducted an experiment in which U.S. adults were exposed to a news story about a U.S. drone strike that killed 23 Afghan civilians. We found that respondents were significantly more critical of the incident and the military more broadly when presented with frame contestation.


cascading activation, frame contestation, cultural resonance, national identity, U.S. drone policy

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