'Being' The News: Cable News Hosts and Public Support for Supreme Court Decisions
36 Pages Posted: 26 May 2022
Date Written: May 16, 2022
In the current media environment, Americans increasingly tune into cable news programs with distinct ideological brands. This paper extends existing work on media source cues to coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, an institution which depends entirely on media outlets to communicate its rulings to the American public. We argue that the source cues associated with celebrity media personalities serve as a heuristic that helps individuals form their opinions about public policy. Using a nationwide survey experiment with over 1,700 respondents, we find that commentary on Supreme Court decisions from cable news hosts affects public agreement with the Court’s rulings. Our results also show that counter-stereotypical position taking has a powerful impact on public perceptions of policy outcomes, suggesting that well-known media figures may have an important role in mitigating ideological polarization in America.
Keywords: source cues, media influence, policy agreement, US Supreme Court, political science, public opinion
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