News Media Conditioning Presidential Responsiveness to the Public
45 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 5 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
Regarding presidential responsiveness and leadership, this study addresses the question: Do the news media affect presidential leadership of and responsiveness to the public? This study argues that the news media intervene in the relationship between the president and the public. The public receives most of their political information including presidential messages from the news media. Also, presidents recognize public policy sentiments from news stories and understand the influence of the news media on the public. Hence, the manner in which the news media deal with social issues can affect presidential issue stances and public issue sentiments. Regarding presidential leadership, this study argues that presidents are more likely to move public opinion when the news media report consonant news stories with presidential issue stances. Similarly, presidents are more likely to respond to the public when news stories are harmonious with public opinion changes. To examine these arguments, this study analyzes the three actors' issue stances from 1958 to 2004 in the United States. The conditional effects of the news media on presidential leadership of and responsiveness to the public are estimated by utilizing interaction models. The regression results in this study show that presidential responsiveness to the public is likely to be observed when news stories are congruent with past public opinion changes.
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