Negative Media Coverage of the Supreme Court: The Interactive Role of Opinion Language, Coalition Size, and Ideological Signals

Alexander Denison, Justin Wedeking, Michael A. Zilis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: We offer a novel consideration of how judicial behavior influences Court coverage, examining when the media use negative language to cover the Supreme Court, and the consequences of this portrayal. Methods: Regression analysis to examine over 1,000 news articles from 29 diverse outlets covering rulings from the 2014 term, using text-based measures of the Court and media's negative coverage. Results: We find that the Court sends an important signal of conflict when using negative language in its decisions, leading to increases in negativity in subsequent coverage. We also show that this effect is conditional upon both the degree of consensus and ideological signals the Court sends when it rules. Conclusion: The media's treatment of the Supreme Court is in many ways a product of the conflict and ideological positioning that can be observed from the Court's rulings. It suggests that Court signals can attenuate media slant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-143
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Volume101
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the Southwestern Social Science Association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)

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