Effects of partisan bias on perceptions of evasion in a political news interview

106th National Communication Association conference, Political Communication division, Indianapolis, IN.

Clementson, D. E., & Xie, T. (Grady PhD student) (2020, Nov.). Effects of partisan bias on perceptions of evasion in a political news interview. Paper to be presented at the 106th National Communication Association conference, Political Communication division, Indianapolis, IN.

Abstract: This paper applies truth-default theory (TDT) to political deception. TDT suggests that people detect deception through suspicion being triggered by a political reporter, which causes a politician to lose credibility. TDT also holds that in-groups have a particularly strong truth-default toward their own members. We report an experiment in which U.S. voters (n = 125 Democrats, and 125 Republicans) watched a real news interview featuring an allegation of evasion. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: a Fox News journalist accusing (or not accusing) a liberal of deception, or a CNN journalist accusing (or not accusing) a conservative of deception. Consistent with TDT, voters’ distrust arose through elevated suspicion, followed by perceiving deceptive messaging. In-group/out-group bias also drove perceptions of deception. However, moderated multiple mediator modeling indicated voters react non-differentially whether or not their in-group media outlet accused an ideologue of evasion.

David Clementson  Tong Xie