The Journal of Politics


Newspaper Coverage of Political Scandals

Riccardo Puglisia1 and James M. Snyder Jr.a2

a1 Università degli Studi di Pavia

a2 Harvard University


We study the coverage of U.S. political scandals by U.S. newspapers during the past decade. Using automatic keyword-based searches we collected data on 32 scandals and approximately 200 newspapers. We find that Democratic-leaning newspapers—i.e., those with a higher propensity to endorse Democratic candidates in elections—provide relatively more coverage of scandals involving Republican politicians than scandals involving Democratic politicians, while Republican-leaning newspapers tend to do the opposite. This is true even after controlling for the average partisan leanings of readers. In contrast, newspapers appear to cater to the partisan tastes of readers only for local scandals.

(Online publication August 03 2011)


Riccardo Puglisi is Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, Statistics and Law University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

James M. Snyder Jr. is Professor at the Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, and Research Associate at NBER.