Credibility Gaps and Public Opinion in a Competitive Media Environment: The Case of Arab Satellite TV News in Lebanon
In research on news exposure and public opinion, media credibility is typically examined as the dependent variable and is rarely considered an independent variable of interest. We move the understanding of media credibility forward by examining its role in attenuating the effects of media exposure on public opinion and how individual differences may moderate the linkage between exposure and credibility. Testing our model of opinion formation in the competitive media landscape of Lebanon, our findings suggest that credibility evaluations of competing news sources mediate the relationship between news exposure and opinion formation. Religious group identity also acts as an inconsistent moderator of the link between media exposure and credibility. Theoretical implications for opinion formation and public diplomacy are discussed.