Political Scandals as a Democratic Challenge| Powerful and Powerless: Psychological Reactions of Norwegian Politicians Exposed in Media Scandals
Fourteen Norwegian politicians, subject to scandalizing media exposure, were interviewed about their experiences, reactions, and ways of coping. The participants expressed deep feelings of injustice and powerlessness related to the proportion of the coverage, the journalistic practices, and the use of anonymous statements. Most significant were the extent of the exposure, attacks on personal and moral attributes, harmful effects on significant others, and betrayal by political colleagues. It was difficult to publicize their own version of the story or correct dubious facts. They experienced stress both in direct encounters with media and related to the reactions of their family members, friends, and colleagues. Long-term effects were loss of trust in others and avoidance of public exposure. Media coping strategies included approaching personal media contacts, counterattacks, and keeping a low profile. Emotional coping strategies involved conducting business as usual and self-control instructions.