Politics

2000
Matthew A. Baum, Tim Groeling, and Martie Haselton. 2000. “Political Scandal, Gender, and Tabloid News: An Experimental Examination of the Evolutionary Origins of Consumer Preferences for Scandalous News”. Publisher's Version
Building on recent work in evolutionary psychology, we predict substantial gender-related
differences in demand for scandalous political news. We argue that individuals’ self-images can alter their motivation to seek information about potential sexual competitors and mates, even when those figures are “virtual”—appearing in mass media. Individuals perceiving themselves as attractive will seek negative news about attractive same-gender individuals, whereas individuals perceiving themselves as unattractive will seek negative information about the opposite gender.
We test our hypotheses in three ways. First, we investigate partially disaggregated national
opinion data regarding news attention. Second, we conduct an experiment in which we asked participants to choose the two most interesting stories from a menu of headlines. We varied the gender and party affiliation of the individual featured in the story. Each participant saw aheadline promoting a DUI arrest of an attractive male or female “rising star” from one of the two parties. Finally, we repeat the experiment with a national sample, this time also varying the valence of the tabloid story. We find strong correlations between respondents’ self-image and their likelihood of seeking and distributing positive or negative information about “virtual” competitors and mates. 
1999
Matthew A. Baum and Samuel Kernell. 1999. “Has Cable Ended the Golden Age of Presidential Television?” American Political Science Review. Publisher's Version

For the past 30 years, presidents have enlisted prime-time television to promote their policies to the American people. For most of this era, they have been able to commandeer the national airwaves and speak to "captive" viewers. Recently, however, presidents appear to be losing their audiences. Two leading explanations are the rise of political disaffection and the growth of cable. We investigate both by developing and testing a model of the individual’s viewing decision using both cross-sectional (1996 NES survey) and time-series (128 Nielsen audience ratings for presidential appearances between 1969 and 1998) data. We find that cable television but not political disaffection has ended the golden age of presidential television. Moreover, we uncover evidence that both presidents and the broadcast networks have begun adapting strategically to this new reality in scheduling presidential appearances.

The time-series data for this article is available for download as an Excel file here.

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