Media Framing of Congressional Republicans during the 2013 Government Shutdown
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In recent years, the political climate in the United States has become increasingly polarized between the Democratic and Republican parties. This is seen most recently with the shutdown of the United States government, October 10 through October 16 , 2013, which was the result of a disagreement between the two parties over the United States budget and the Affordable Care Act. The recent increase in the polarization between the two parties has even caused a divide within media outlets, more specifically cable news outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC. These news programs frame different stories and events in a biased fashion towards one party or another. However, the network channels may or may not be affected by this recent increase in polarization. This raises the question, do mainstream news channels report the news in an unbiased manner? To be exact, is there a partisan bias within the mainstream media’s evening news programs? Media coverage of political events is important to the political process because it is how a large number of individuals get their information about policies and policy makers. Voters’ information, and by association, their beliefs, could be led astray if a bias exists within mainstream media. If a bias is identified, future political science research could examine why this bias exists and what might be a driving force behind the bias. People should be able to feel confident that the information provided by mainstream news outlets is not framed or biased in a certain way as to lead them or their beliefs astray. Hopefully this paper, in answering this question, will help to either bring awareness of a possible bias or bring confidence in the lack of a biased media coverage of American politics. I will examine prior research on framing and media reporting of politics. I will then examine a three-week window from October 7 through October 25, 2013, of the nightly news coverage on three mainstream media channels: ABC, CBS, and NBC. This will cover the end of the shutdown of the United States government and the beginning of the issues with the Affordable Care Act website. I will look at the number of times both parties are mentioned and the tone used when mentioning the parties. From this information, I will then assess if a partisan bias is present.