STUDY: 'Real news' makes conservatives 'anxious' about Trump
A new study claims that conservatives become “less proud” and “more anxious” about President Trump when they are exposed to more news articles about “the Trump-Russia investigation.”
Between June 12 and June 16, 2017, political science professors and doctoral students from Louisiana State University (LSU) and Ferrum College exposed 1,187 participants from all political ideologies to news surrounding alleged collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia during the 2016 election.
"Intense media concentration on an issue may alter partisan's evaluations of politicians by changing the balance of headlines."
"We find that Republicans randomly assigned to receive more articles about the Trump-Russia investigation were less proud, less enthusiastic, less hopeful, and more anxious about President Trump," the authors report, adding that "these Republicans were also likelier to expect [that] his presidency will have negative consequences."
According to the researchers, their focus was on “the investigation into whether [Trump’s] campaign colluded with Russian intelligence in the 2016 campaign, and whether Trump obstructed justice in pressuring FBI Director James Comey to end the investigation, and subsequently firing Comey.”
LSU Assistant Professor Nathan Kalmoe told Campus Reform that the purpose of the study was to “test how people respond politically to different kinds of real news, especially when exposed to a stream of news over a one-week period rather than reading a single article at one time.”
The researchers singled out Fox News and other conservative news outlets for failing to “cover the Russia story as comprehensively as mainstream outlets,” implying that conservative news organizations are disadvantaging, if not outright manipulating, their audiences.
And while the study determined that exposure to articles about the Russia story did not affect Republican attitudes about media bias, the authors speculate that "intense media concentration on an issue may alter partisan's evaluations of politicians by changing the balance of headlines."
“The consequences for President Trump are clear: he cannot count on his Republican base to blindly support him through the scandals plaguing his administration if those scandals remain prominently featured in the headlines,” the study states.
The study also predicts that increased exposure to the alleged scandal could be a nightmare for Republican politicians across the country who are already concerned about their prospects in the 2018 midterms, saying that “if the Russia scandal continues to rage until November of 2018, those Republicans’ worries may be well-founded.”
While the study is still in draft form, it will be presented at the Swiss Political Science Association in Geneva, Switzerland from Feb 5-6, 2018, and at another conference at LSU early this semester. The paper will be sent for peer-review after the conference and will take roughly a year before the research may be published in an academic journal.
“That's an important caveat: the work has not yet been peer-reviewed,” Kalmoe told Campus Reform. “We certainly have confidence in our own work, but the field has yet to weigh in on it through the usual review process over the next year or so. Our purpose in sharing it online was to inform fellow scholars about our work in progress.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @neetu_chandak