a1 Temple University
a2 University of California-Riverside
a3 University of Mary Washington
Previous research has consistently documented a hostile media effect in which people see bias in balanced reporting on political controversies. In the contemporary fragmented media environment, partisan news outlets intentionally report political news from ideological perspectives, raising the possibility that ideologically biased news may cause viewers to become increasingly suspicious of and antagonistic toward news media—which we call oppositional media hostility. However, the fragmented media environment also gives television viewers ample opportunities to tune out news outlets with which they disagree as well as the news altogether, and this should moderate oppositional media hostility. We investigate the effects of partisan news shows on media perceptions across six laboratory-based experiments. We find that counterattitudinal news programming is more likely to induce hostile media perceptions than proattitudinal programming, but that the presence of choice blunts oppositional media hostility. We explore possible mechanisms that underlie the moderating effects of selective exposure.
Kevin Arceneaux is Associate Professor of Political Science and Institute of Public Affairs Faculty Affiliate at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, 19122.
Martin Johnson is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside, CA, 92521.
Chad Murphy is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA, 22401.