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“Audience Costs and Media: The Cases of Obama and Truman” by Makito Takei

September 2, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am

[Paper, Slides]

Author: Makito Takei (University of North Texas)

Abstract: Though many studies have studied audience costs since the seminal article by Fearon (1994), evidence in support of audience costs remains mixed suggesting the need for a new context within which to “look for audience costs” (Schultz 2001). I propose that one such place is media. Without media reporting, it should be difficult for the domestic public to punish their leader’s inconsistency between words and deeds. If audience costs are caused by a leader's inconsistency, then the media should report that inconsistency more widely and negatively after the leader’s failure to be consistent. To test this expectation, I conduct two case studies of Obama in the Syrian Civil War and Truman in the Korean War by using the text data of newspaper articles. Overall, the results do not support either hypothesis. I discuss selection effects may mask the effect of the violation of international commitments on media coverage and its tone.

Discussants: Eric Min (UCLA), Paul Poast (Chicago), Philip B. K. Potter (UVA) and Kenneth A. Schultz (Stanford).

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