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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

2012

Month Degree Awarded

May

Keywords

gender, politics, framing, president, Clinton, Palin, Bachmann, pundit, cable, news

Abstract

In many nations, the 21st century has been about women in politics. Not only are they running for prominent political offices, but they are winning them. The trend toward success for American female politicians has been slower to progress, however, as no women have been elected to the U.S. Presidency to date, and social science research suggests persistent gender biases exist in their news coverage. In order to explore the potential role that media play in continuing this gender disparity in U.S. politics, this comparative study investigates how cable pundit programs – a dramatic, partisan genre of “news” that has risen in popularity since the 2008 election – frame female candidates for the highest national office. A content analysis of pre-election coverage of three prominent U.S. politicians on the national scene, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, on The O’Reilly Factor, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show reveals a small incidence of gendered coverage across these shows overall. Among said coverage found, however, trends in the data suggest that conservative programs employ more gendered frames than liberal programs, and that those frames are particularly negative when referring to liberal candidates (Clinton), and positive when referring to conservative (Palin and Bachmann) candidates. Further, the gender of the pundits, the gender of the cable network production staff members, and the political party affiliations of executive staff/owners correspond to the frames employed by these programs in unique ways.

First Advisor

Erica Scharrer

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