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Ideology and Source Credibility:
Partisan Perception Bias in Believability of CNN, Fox News and PBS
Missouri School of Journalism
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Submission for Leslie J. Moeller Award Competition
Mass Communication and Society Division
AEJMC Annual Convention, San Antonio, Texas, 2005
Ideology and Source Credibility:
Partisan Perception Bias in Believability of CNN, Fox News and PBS
This paper examines the relationship between partisan ideology and
perception of source believability within the framework of hostile
media effect. Results show that partisan ideology significantly
influenced people's perceived believability of three news outlets of
CNN, Fox News and PBS (News Hour with Jim Lehrer). Liberals are more
likely to rate CNN as believable while conservatives tend to endorse
Fox News. Partisan ideology, however, does not make a difference in
the evaluation of PBS.
Ideology and Source Credibility:
Partisan Perception Bias in Believability of CNN, Fox News and PBS
Perhaps one of the most unsettling issues in journalism is the
accusation of media bias, and together with that, the growing public
distrust. Although millions of Americans still rely on the news
media as their major source of information (Pew, 2003), the public
seems to simultaneously have a growing distrust on the news media
(Pew, 2002, 2003). For instance, when the Gallup Poll asked Americans
to rate the honesty and ethics of people in various fields,
journalists were rated ahead of only car dealers and insurance
salesmen (Gallup, 2000). While the news institutions and journalists
who work for them claim objectivity as one of their highest
standards, studies have shown that more and more Americans are
skeptical of the news media as a "fair," "trustworthy," and impartial
source of political information, and the news media have been
perceived as politically and ideologically biased (ASNE, 1999;
Cappella & Jamieson, 1997; Pew Center, 2002, 2003).
Conventional source credibility studies tend to conceptualize media
credibility along two dimensions: source credibility and content
believability. Overlapping but distinctive as the two concepts are,
source credibility often seems to be more inclusive, embracing
measurement of both trustworthiness of the source and realism of the
content. Thus, source credibility has been studied in relation with a
number of media institutional characters, and media content,
including the reputation of the news media, the professionalism of
the journalists, objectiveness of the news stories, etc. However,
less attention has been paid to the perceptive quality of source
credibility. Often than not, source credibility is perceptive rather
than objective, and such perception is subject to a number of
personal factors, most prominently political and ideological
dispositions (Chaiken, Liberman, & Eagly, 1989; Christen,
Kannaovakun, & Gunther, 2002; Higgins & Bargth, 1987; Vallone, Ross,
& Lepper, 1985).
This study adopts this perceptive line of thinking and examines the
relationship between ideological factors and perception of news media
credibility within the framework of hostile media effect (Vallone,
Ross, & Lepper 1985). Using secondary data from the Pew center media
believability survey (Pew, 2002), this study tests how individual
ideology influences perceived believability of three news networks:
CNN, Fox News and PBS (News Hour with Jim Lehrer).
The hostile media effect was first identified and tested in a
classic study by Vallone and colleagues (1985). It holds that
perception of media bias is in large part a result of the perceivers'
ideological and political biases rather than the actual bias of news
content. Partisans may still see biases even when the news coverage
is balanced and objective. Although the original hostile media effect
study dealt with the concept of media bias, not media credibility, it
is argued that media bias is an integral part of media credibility,
and it is plausible to extend the basic theoretical proposition of
the original hostile media effect to the study of source credibility.
The original and later replications of the hostile media effect
study (Giner-Sorolla & Chaiken, 1994; Gunther, 1992; Perlof, 1989)
basically assumed a neutral, anonymous news message in their inquiry,
without giving adequate considerations to other conditioning factors
such as source credibility in triggering, enhancing or inhibiting the
hostile media effect. Although several studies (e.g. Giner-Sorolla &
Chaiken, 1994) indicated the importance of identifying prior belief
in media bias and included such factor in studying hostile media
perception, they did not explain what contributed to the formation
and direction of prior beliefs in news media bias. In addition, they
overlooked the issue that audience perception of news media bias can
be both general (the new media are biased as a whole) and specific
(certain news media outlets are perceived as liberal while others as
conservative), and such perceptions are often dependent on the
relative political and ideological bias of the viewers (A liberal may
perceive certain news outlet as conservative, while a conservative
may credit the same news outlet as fair). It is important to note
that the viewers are normally exposed to reputable news organizations
rather than anonymous sources on a daily basis, and the viewers have
their own perceptions of each news outlet. Thus, it is important to
examine how individual factors influenced the perception of bias and
credibility of different news outlets. Such inquiry may not only
offer evidence for the presumptive source impact on hostile media
perception but also extend the boundary of the hostile media theory
as a whole.
Although the seminal hostile media effect study was done 20 years
ago, only a couple of follow-up studies have been conducted. Due to
the scarcity in previous literature in applying hostile media theory
in studying the relationship between political ideology and source
credibility, greater efforts will be expended on discussing the basic
theoretical propositions of the hostile media effect, and how these
can be connected with the study of source credibility. It also should
be pointed out that previous studies in hostile media effect dealt
mainly with the concept of media bias rather than media credibility
per se. Although the two are closely connected, and many previous
inquires did not explicitly make the distinction (Gunter, 1992), they
are not identical. Perception of bias does not automatically mean
perception of media credibility. For instance, viewers may still
perceive a news story as credible even when they question its
objectivity (Peng & Thorson, 2004). With that precaution being taken,
however, this study follows the conventional line of not making
arduous endeavor to differentiate the two, because the major goal of
this study is to examine the underlying relationship between partisan
ideological factors and perception on media performance.
The Hostile Media Effect
In studying media bias, two approaches have been conventionally
adopted. One focuses on the production side, often by means of
surveying the political and ideological profiles of the journalists
(e.g. Weaver & Wilhoit, 1996; Weaver, 1998), their daily
newsgathering routines (Gans, 1988; White, 1950), and the social and
political contexts in which news gathering and production are
performed (Shoemaker & Reese, 1996). The other common approach is
bias identification through content analysis. The first line of
inquiry, although may provide important information on who
journalists are and how they do their work, it is difficult to
establish causal connections between journalists=s personal
preferences and the bias of the news content. Content analyses, on
the other hand, by systematically analyzing the end products,
produced important data on multiple dimensions of the nature and
characteristics of the news content. However, content analyses are
often subject to a number of possible biases such as sampling, coding
scheme and result interpretation. Although a number of studies have
combined the two to look at the correlations (Watts, Domke, Shah, &
Fan, 1999) causation was hard to establish, as often the case in
Recently, more studies have been using the theoretical propositions
in social cognition and social judgment theory to examine the
perceptive aspects of media bias. The basic contention is that media
bias is subject to distortion of non-media factors such as partisan
ideological bias, as demonstrated in the seminal hostile media effect
by Vallone, et al (1985).
Prior to the study of perception of media bias, the issue of
distorted evaluations and perception of social evidence by
preconceived theories and beliefs have been documented in a great
number of studies in social psychology (Allport, 1954; Bruner, 1957;
Chapman & Chapman, 1967; Hastorf & Cantril, 1954; Hamilton, 1979;
Nisbett & Ross, 1980; Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979; Ross & Lepper,
1980). The classic study by Hastorf and Cantril (1954) recorded the
influence of partisan bias on evaluation of a sport game. Students
from Princeton and Dartmouth were asked to view a film of a rough
game between the two college teams. Interestingly, Princeton students
"saw" the Dartmouth team make over twice as many rule infractions as
were seen by Dartmouth students. Hastorf and Cantril interpreted
these results overall as indicating that, when encountering a mix of
occurrences as complex as a football game, people experience
primarily those events that fulfill a familiar pattern and have
Similar phenomenon was documented in a later study by Lord, Ross and
Lepper (1979). In that study, the researchers asked about advocates
and opponents of capital punishment to review an identical pair of
studies that provided mixed results on deterrent efficacy of such
punishment. They found that the exposure to a common sample of
inconclusive evidence produced no moderation or convergence of views
on the part of the partisans. On the contrary, each group readily
assimilated or accepted at face value the evidence that seemed to
support its position, but subjected to critical scrutiny the evidence
that threatened or undermined its position. This clearly demonstrated
that issue positions, in this case, advocates and opponents of
capital punishment, did influence their perception and judgment of
the same evidences.
The first study to explicitly identify the hostile media effect was
done by Vallone, et al (1985). Vallone and colleagues recruited
Stanford University students who identified themselves as generally
pro-Israel, pro-Arab, and mixed neutral feeling to view news coverage
of the Beirut massacre. After viewing identical samples of major
networks television coverage, both pro-Israel and pro-Arab partisans
rated these programs, and those responsible for them, as being biased
against their side.
Following Vallone, et al's (1985) seminal study, a number of studies
have used both survey and experimental methods to examine different
aspects of the hostile media effect, including two studies
replicating Vallone, et al in using Palestine-Israeli conflict as the
context (Giner-Sorolla & Chaiken, 1994; Perloff, 1989). Beginning in
the late 1990s, additional field experiments on hostile media effects
were conducted on some other issues such as perception on the 1997
UPS strike (Christen, Kannaovakun, & Gunther, 2002), the controversy
over lab research using primates (Gunther, Christen, Liebhart, &
Chia, 2001), and presidential performance (D'Alessio, 2003). A number
of survey studies, some of them based on national probability samples
(Dalton, Beck, & Huckfeldt, 1998; Gunther, 1992; Gunther & Christen,
2002) also showed results consistent with findings of Vallone, et al (1985).
News Source and Hostile Media Effect
Vallone, et al (1985) and most later hostile media studies did not
include source as an important factor for consideration. In these
studies, a neutral news source was assumed in the stimuli. However,
source can greatly influence the perception process. For instance,
Rouner, Slater, and Buddenbaum (1999) demonstrated how readers
consider the source in evaluating whether a statement is biased. They
provided readers with short biographies of speakers written to
suggest the speaker would be biased or unbiased on the issue. They
found that, as predicted, readers evaluated the speakers statements
based on what they had been told about the source, rather than the
actual statement content. Related research also indicated the
importance of source in perception of news credibility (Gunther,
2002: Gaziano, 1988; Gaziano & McGrath; Meyer, 1988). Source effects
also bear strong effect on the effectiveness of communication found
in earlier researches (Hovland, Janis, & Kelly, 1953; Hovland &
Weiss, 1951). Later studies demonstrated that audiences judge a
message more favorably when it is delivered by a source perceived as
having a relatively high, rather than low level of credibility
(Perloff, 1993; Wilson & Sherrell, 1993).
Source effect in hostile media phenomenon was first tested in a
recent study by Arpan and Raney (2004). The study examined the
interaction among different news sources, and the hostile media
effect in sports news. The news source manipulation was achieved by
altering the location of the newspaper that published the story.
Participants read a balanced story about their hometown college
football team in one of three newspapers: the hometown, the cross
state rival university town, or a neutral town paper. As expected,
the participants=s perception of bias was significantly influenced by
the perceived news source.
Partisanship and News Source Credibility
News source credibility has been traditionally examined as an
inherent characteristic of the news institution, dependent or
independent of the news content. A large part of the research focused
on the definition and measurement of credibility (Gaziano & McGrath,
1986). Source credibility has been conceptualized as the degree to
which an individual perceives the media source portrays the real
world truthfully (Austin & Dong, 1995). Gunther and colleagues
(Gunther & Lasorsa, 1986; Gunther, 1988) defined the concept of
credibility on two dimensions: media expertise in covering a topic
and perceptions about the media bias in covering the topic. All
these, although different in emphases, point to the perceptive
dimensions that audience exploited to make judgment.
Although the hostile media effect studies did not explicitly point
out how partisan factors influence perception of media credibility,
the discussion on source effect in previous hostile media effect
research did indicate that similar relationship existed. For
instance, studies show that perception of news media credibility may
be less a matter of news content than cognitive process of the
audiences. (Christen, et al, 2002; Giner-Sorolla & Chaiken, 1994;
Gunther, 1992). News stories intended as balanced and objective by
the news producers may be perceived as biased, and therefore lacking
in credibility by the audience. Along this line of argument, if the
partisan bias played a critical role in perception of media bias,
there is possible too that such mechanism may be present in
perception of credibility of news outlets.
Ideological Spectrum of CNN, Fox News and PBS
There are many plausible factors as why partisanship may impact their
perception of news media credibility. One line of argument is the
perceived media bias, which impacts people's perception of news
media credibility, as indicated by the hostile media effect theory.
As shown in the study of Arpan and Raney (2004) in sports news
coverage, audience perception was greatly influenced by the location
of the news sourceBpaper of hometown, of rival town, and of a neutral
town. Apparently, the presumed media bias in news sources influenced
the judgment process. Similarly, as in this study, the three news
networks may be perceived differently on the ideological slant by the
audience. Although placement of these three networks on the
ideological continuum may be a matter of debate and the branding of
CNN as the liberal, Fox as conservative are more based on popular
accusations and perceptions rather than hard empirical evidence, it
seems fair to say that these classifications do exist as far as
public perception is concerned. Generally speaking, Fox news has
been identified with a conservative slant, therefore, was used here
as a representative on the right end of the ideological continuum of
the news media; similarly, CNN is on the left end of the continuum,
and PBS as somewhere in between. Although in reality, such as
categorization or placement of the news channel might not be accurate
and difficult to justify, this study argues that what matters here is
not whether such placement is accurate, but the popular perceived
ideological and political bias of the news media. After all, in this
study, it is the relative perceptions of the viewers rather than the
actual bias of the news media are measured and tested.
The study of source credibility is important because the audience,
for the most part, is only receiving partial information, and seldom
has a baseline for evaluating the information they get. And rarely,
if not at all, will average viewers bother to expose themselves to
news coverage of different sources on the same event in order to
balance out any possible bias. To them, perception on the specific
news outlets can be vital in evaluating the news content.
Based on the above discussion, it is reasonable to expect hostile
media effect on source credibility as indicated by the original
hostile media hypothesis on perceived media bias. Specifically,
partisan, ideological factors will result in bias perception of
specific news sources. Rather than perceiving a hostile media bias
across media (the news media are generally biased either liberally or
conservatively), subjects will differentiate their perception towards
specific news media outlets. For instance, conservatives will be more
likely to perceive a hostile bias in CNN than Fox News; or from a
relative perspective, both liberals and conservatives may perceive a
hostile media bias in CNN, but conservatives will be more likely to
perceive a stronger hostile effect in CNN than liberals.
The data used in this study was from a media believability survey
done in the year 2002 by Pew Center. Independent variables chosen for
this study include demographics (age, gender, education, income),
Party ID (Republican, Independent, or Democrats), ideology
(conservative or liberal), and exposure to national TV news. The
dependent variable is perceived believability of CNN, PBS, and Fox News.
It is expected that liberals would perceive CNN as more believable
and conservatives would perceive Fox News as more believable.
However, there will be no significant differences between the two
camps on their perception of PBS news. Specifically:
H1. There will be a significant positive relationship between how
liberal a respondent is and the perceived believability of CNN.
H2. There will be a significant negative relationship between how
liberal a respondent is and the perceived believability of Fox News.
H3. There will be no significant relationship between how liberal a
person is and the perceived believability of PBS. In other words,
there will be no significant differences between liberals and
conservatives in their perception of the believability of PBS.
The Pew Center is an independent opinion research group that studies
attitudes towards the press, politics and public policy issues. It
sponsors regular national surveys that measure public attentiveness
to major news stories and charts trends in values and fundamental
political and social attitudes. Its data were open for public access
and have been used for analysis in journalism, communication,
political sciences and many other areas of academic research.
The 2002 Media Believability Survey are based on telephone interviews
conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates
among a nationwide sample of 1,005 adults, 18 years of age or older,
during the period May 6-16.
The dataset contains hundreds of variables measuring a wide range of
demographic and attitudinal measures. For this study, only variables
pertinent to the inquiry were selected, including demographics, party
ID, political views, exposure to national TV news, and believability
of specific news outlets.
Party ID was measured with two related questions. First, respondents
were asked: In politics today, do you consider yourself a Republican,
Democrat, or Independent? If in independent was chosen, a follow-up
question was asked for the learning direction (Republican or Democrat).
Political view was operationalized in a similar way, with a question
asking the respondents to rate their political view on a five-point
scale ranging from 1 (very conservative) to 5 (very liberal).
National TV news exposure was operationalized by a four-point scale
ranging from 1 (rarely) to 4 (regularly).
Believability was operationalized with a single question: how much do
you think you can believe each of the following organization?
Respondents were asked to rate on a 4-point scale ranging from 1
(can't believe) to 4 (believe the most)
Multiple regressions models with block entry were tested on CNN, Fox
News, and PBS, with demographics and party ID as the first block,
followed by TV news exposure, and political view.
Descriptive statistics (See Table 1) show that the sample generally
represented the national population (United States Census,
2000). The sample had slightly more females (male =46.3 percent,
and female =53.7). In terms of party ID, there were roughly equal
numbers of Republicans (31.6 percent) and Democrats (31.4 percent),
with the rest as Independents. They were generally regular network
news consumers (mean=2.97 in the range of 1-4). In terms of political
view, there was a roughly normal distribution, with a mean of 2.77,
and a standard deviation of .97 in the range of 1-5. In terms of
believability (ranging from 1 to 4), CNN (mean=3.03) led the three,
followed by PBS (mean=2.87) and Fox News (mean=2.81). However, the
differences were minimal.
Insert Table 1 about Here
Table 2 presents the zero-order correlations between believability
and the independent variables. For CNN, sex, TV news exposure and
political views are significantly associated with perception of
believability in the positive direction. However, age is negatively
associated with believability. This indicates that younger, female
viewers with liberal political views tend to perceive CNN as more
credible. Education, income and party ID have no significant
correlations with believability. The results for Fox News viewers
turn out to be contrasting: all the seven variables are significantly
associated with perceived believability. However, different from CNN,
age is in the positive direction, indicating older viewers tend to
perceived Fox as more believable. Education level, which is not
significant in CNN, becomes significant, negatively correlating with
perception of believability, which can be interpreted that the more
educated, the less likely a person will rate Fox News as believable.
Party ID is also negatively associated with believability of Fox
News. In other words, the Democrats are less likely to rate Fox news
as believable. Not surprisingly, political view is negatively
correlated with perception of believability of Fox News:
conservatives are more likely to perceive Fox News as believable. For
PBS, age, sex and education are positively associated with perceived
believability. Party ID, TV news exposure, and particularly political
views, are not correlated with perceived believability.
Insert Table 2 about Here
Table 3 shows the results of multiple regressions, with demographics
(age, sex, education, income) and Party ID as the first block,
national TV news exposure as the second, and finally political views.
Among the demographics, the relationships found in zero-order
correlations still hold, although the strength is limited.
Interestingly, sex is a strong predictor (beta=.205, p<.01 for CNN;
beta=.079, p<.01 for Fox, and beta= .152, p<.01 for PBS); Age is a
negative predictor for CNN (beta=-.162, p<.05), but a positive one
for PBS (beta=.143, p<.01). Education is a negative predictor for CNN
(beta=-.054, p<.01) and Fox (-.098, p<.05), but a positive one for
PBS (beta=.183, p<.01). Income is a negative predictor for Fox News
(beta=-.097, p<.05). While Party ID is not significant for CNN and
PBS, it is negatively predicting Fox (beta=-.092, p<.05). National TV
news exposure is a strong predictor for both CNN (beta=.166p,.p<.01)
and Fox News (beta=.234, p<.01), but not for PBS. TV news exposure,
not surprisingly, strongly predicts believability of CNN (beta=.166,
p<.01) and Fox News (beta=.234, p<.01), but not PBS. Finally,
political view is a significant predictor for both CNN (beta=.89,
p<.01) and Fox (beta=-.174, p<.01) but in the opposite direction.
Political view does not predict believability of PBS. The entire
model explains about 10 percent variance for CNN, 12 percent for Fox news.
Insert Table 3 about Here
H1 predicts that there will be a significant positive relationship
between how liberal a respondent is and the perceived believability
of CNN. The results of the regression show that with all other
variables controlled, political view positively predicts the
believability of CNN. In other words, the more liberal a person is,
the more the person will rate CNN as believable. Therefore, H1 is accepted.
H2 predicts an opposite direction for Fox News. Results show a
significant confirmation of the prediction. With all other variables
controlled, political view negatively predicts the perceived
believability of Fox. In other words, the more liberal a person is,
the less likely the person will rate Fox as believability. Put it
another way, conservatives will be more likely to perceive Fox news
as believable. Therefore, H2 is accepted.
H3 states that there will be no significant relationship between how
liberal a person is and the believability of PBS. In other words,
there will be no significant difference between liberals and
conservatives in their perception of the believability of PBS. The
results show that political view is not a significant predictor for
believability of PBS. Therefore, H3 is also accepted.
The key issue under investigation in this study is the relationship
between one's ideology and perceived believability of individual news
outlets that are perceived in relative ideological distance from
one's own. The results in this study show that with all the effects
of demographic variables and media exposure controlled for, political
view significantly predicts believability perception. As expected,
liberals tend to perceive CNN as more believable, and conservatives
give more credits to Fox News, fitting the line of the hostile media
effect. It's interesting to find that political view makes no
difference when it comes to the evaluation of PBS.
In addition to the significant key finding discussed above, it's
also worth mentioning that among other predictors in the multiple
regression models, TV news exposure turned out to be the strongest
positive predictor for believability of both CNN and Fox News. It's
not surprising in light of the numerous findings in mass
communication literature that exposure and favorability are in a
reciprocal relationship. Exposure can cultivate and enhance cognitive
and affective favorability, and such favorability can be further
translated into more exposure. It's also interesting to note that
party ID weakly predicts believability of Fox News, not CNN. In
contrast, ideology is a much stronger predictor for both Fox News and
CNN. This indicates that although the concepts of party ID and
ideology can be overlapping in many ways, they are distinctive under
many situations, where ideology rather than party ID is a more viable
News media outlets are not identical in terms of ideological slants,
and the audience's perception of individual news media outlets
matters. If one perceives the news source as with his or her side,
one tends to believe, and rate it as fairer and less biased; however,
if the news source is perceived as hostile, the credibility of the
news source is more likely to be negatively perceived. If the media
source is perceived as objective or non-partisan, then people's own
political and ideological bias does not make much difference.
Although the total variance explained by the model is moderate, the
results are notable given the complexity of the perception issue.
A basic theoretical assumption of the hostile media effect is that
audience evaluation of news media bias and credibility is perceptive
and influenced by a plethora of personal factors, most notably
partisan bias. The results of this study provide further
evidence. However, the original line of testing on the hostile media
effect has been focused on the evaluation of actual news content
rather than the news source. Most of the previous inquiry was testing
how audiences' processing bias influenced assessment of bias of the
news media coverage on specific issues. This study shows that the
hostile media effect can extend to more general perception issues,
such as news source, which may not be directly related to specific
news content. Rather than an interaction between people's own
political ideological bias and the news media content bias, it seems
here that people's own political bias interacts with their beliefs in
the news source, which results in their final evaluation of the
credibility of individual news outlets.
It has to be emphasized here that the placement of the three
networks along the ideological continuum is based more on relative
popular perception rather than the actual news slant in reality,
although studies did show Fox news tends to be more opinionated,
pro-America, and pro-conservative in comparison with other cable news
networks (State of the News Media, 2005). It is likely that average
viewers were influenced by the general perception and identified
themselves with respective news outlets. Such identification can
serve as a reference for individual viewers to categorize news
outlets as "us" or "them," and consequently bias their evaluation of
the bias and credibility of the individual news outlets. This perhaps
explains why PBS was not predicted by the audience's political views,
as PBS might be perceived as a news outlet of neither "us" nor
"them." Similar situations have been found Arpan and Raney (2003) on
source effect on sports news coverage. Findings in this study further
demonstrate that partisan bias may be an important factor impacting
people's perception of news media credibility. On all accounts, such
perception can be crucial in light of the news media's role in social
and political communication. Previous studies show that audience tend
to have more exposure and give more attention when they perceive the
news media as more credible (Wanta & Hu, 1994), and it can also
condition the agenda-setting function of the news media (Iyengar &
Kinder, 1987; Wanta, 1997).
The findings in this study provide insights for a better
understanding of the theoretical capability and methodological issues
in hostile media effect research. Most previous hostile media effect
studies relied on experimental methods, where groups of partisan
extremity (e.g., strong pro-Israel vs. strong pro-Palestine, in
Vallone, et al, 1985; strong pro-life vs. strong pro-choice in
Giner-Sorolla & Chaiken, 1994) were asked to react to coverage on
highly volatile, provocative issues. Although these studies offered
valuable empirical evidence and theoretical explanations for the
hostile media phenomenon, the restrictive conditions in these lab
experiments reduced the generalizability of the results and the
applicability of the theoretical dispositions. This study used survey
data from a national sample, and identified and supported a strong
effect of partisan bias on source credibility. This indicates that
hostile media effect can go much beyond what had been defined in the
original line of inquiry—partisan bias influenced perception of
specific new stories. It can also influence people's perceptions on
other dimensions related to news media performance such as source credibility.
It should be noted that the nature of the secondary data limited the
study's ability to empirically explore and test possible mechanism
involved in the perception of source credibility. For instance,
although a significant relationship was found between partisan
ideological orientations and perceived credibility of individual news
outlets, causality is hard to establish. Although it is plausible
that audience perceived the individual news outlets as liberal,
conservative, and fairly balanced, and such perceived news media bias
influenced people's evaluation of news media credibility, as
suggested in the original hostile media effect, such prior held
beliefs of the audience in this study were assumed rather than
empirically measured and tested. Future studies may use direct
measurement on perceived news bias of each individual news outlets,
and examine how these prior beliefs interact with ideological factors
and influence perception of news source credibility.
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Table 1: Descriptive Statistics
Age (1=18-24 to 3=34-44 and to 6=65+)
Education (1=below high school, to 5=above college )
Political View (5=very liberal )
TV News Exposure
(1=rare to 4=regular )
Believability (1=can't believe to 4= believe most)
Table 2: Zero-order Correlations between Independent Variables and
National TV Exposure
Table 3: Believability Regressed on Predictors
Cumulative Adjusted R2
National TV News Exposure
Cumulative Adjusted R2
Cumulative Adjusted R2