- How the media shape perceptions of right-wing populist leaders
- Political Communication
- Volume | Issue number
- 28 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
It is often argued that right-wing populist party leaders are dependent on the media for their public image, which in turn is key for their electoral success. This study tests this assumption by comparing the effects of the media coverage of 2 Dutch right-wing populist leaders with the effects of the coverage of leaders of established parties, in a real-life setting, by tracking campaign developments in the Dutch 2006 national election campaign. We combine panel survey data (n = 401) with repeated measurements of the party leaders' public images with a systematic content analysis of 17 media outlets (with a total of 1,001 stories), on the basis of the media consumption of individual respondents. Our results show significant effects of the content of media coverage on the public image of political leaders. However, only in 1 case (out of 10) is there a significant difference between right-wing populist party leaders and leaders of other parties in the strength of media effects. It thus seems that leaders of right-wing populist parties are just as dependent upon the media as leaders of other parties. The findings are discussed in the light of extant research on right-wing populist parties and media populism.
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