Date of Award
Master of Science
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
This study examines interactions between racial bias and partisan bias in the coverage of two opposing Black candidates on two opinion cable television programs-- "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox and "The Rachel Maddow Show" -- on MSNBC from Sept. 1, 2010 to Jan. 3, 201l, the time period when both Barack Obama and Herman Cain were considered leading candidates prior to the Iowa caucuses. To study racial bias, the author created three racial frames - minority interest, racial strategy, and racial attributes. A generic "conflict" frame was also used. A total of 243 segments from both programs were content analyzed.
Results indicate that at least one of the racial frames appeared in about one out of five segments. The generic conflict frame was present in virtually all segments studied. In support of partisan bias, results showed that Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor" treated Barack Obama much more negatively than did MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show." Similarly, Fox's program was much more positive about Herman Cain. These results provide strong evidence that a partisan bias was operating, and suggest that it influenced racial bias. Rather than racial bias being used in general to cast Black candidates in a negative light, the findings suggest that racial frames were used opportunistically to support a favored candidate or criticize the opposition candidate. Both opinion programs used more minority interest frames when covering the candidate of color who belonged to the Political Party that each cable network supported.
Xue, Xin, "Testing the Effects of Partisan Bias on Racial Framing of Presidential Candidates: Coverage of Barack Obama and Herman Cain by Fox and MSNBC in 2011" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12758.