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The Influence of News Media on Political Elites: Investigating Strategic Responsiveness in Congress

Abstract : News media play a central role in democratic politics, yet we know little about how media affect the behavior of policy makers. To understand the conditions under which news media influence political elites, we advance a theory of strategic responsiveness, which contends that elected representatives are more likely to heed their constituents' preferences when voters are attentive. Accordingly, news media's influence on legislative behavior should be most apparent near elections and dependent on the partisan composition of the constituency. We capitalize on the incremental rollout of the conservative Fox News Channel in the late 1990s to evaluate our theoretical predictions. Fox News caused both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to increase support for the Republican Party position on divisive votes, but only in the waning months of the election cycle and among those members who represent districts with a sizable portion of Republican voters.
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 7, 2022 - 2:46:14 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 8, 2022 - 3:32:33 AM

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Kevin Arceneaux, Martin Johnson, René Lindstädt, Ryan J. Vander Wielen. The Influence of News Media on Political Elites: Investigating Strategic Responsiveness in Congress. American Journal of Political Science, Wiley, 2016, 60 (1), pp.5-29. ⟨10.1111/ajps.12171⟩. ⟨hal-03634190⟩

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