Skip to main content

Gender and Race in Congressional National News Media Appearances in 2008

  • Jennifer C. Lucas (a1)

Media coverage of women and black members of Congress and presidential candidates often relies on gender and racial stereotypes, providing distorted coverage of these members and their agendas. This study analyzes national news media appearances of House members discussing the 2008 presidential election to examine whether the increased salience of race and gender due to the presence of nonwhite male presidential and vice presidential candidates resulted in greater media visibility for female and black representatives. Female and black House members, particularly those Democrats who endorsed a candidate, appeared in the media more often in 2008, driven by the media's interest in connecting their gender and racial identities to evaluations of Clinton, Palin, and Obama. With the national media's attention drawn to conflict, members with perceived conflicts among their intersectional identities drew greater media attention, especially Republican and black women. Overall, the media rendered black and female members as mainly surrogate representatives for black and women voters. The results suggest that black and female sources may secure national media exposure through the strategic use of their perceived raced-gendered expertise but at the risk of reinforcing stereotypes, and female or minority presidential candidates may influence the visibility of these members to voters.

Hide All
Anderson, Christopher L. 2013. “Which Party Elites Choose to Lead the Nomination Process?Political Research Quarterly 66 (1): 6176.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Behr, Roy, and Iyengar, Shanto. 1993. The Media Game: American Politics in the Television Age, New York: Macmillan.
Bratton, Kathleen A., and Haynie, Kerry L.. 1999. “Agenda Setting and Legislative Success in State Legislatures: The Effects of Gender and Race.” Journal of Politics 61 (3): 658–79.
Bratton, Kathleen, Haynie, Kerry L., and Reingold, Beth. 2006. “Agenda Setting and African American Women in State Legislatures: The Effects of Gender and Race. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 28 (3/4): 7196.
Carlin, Diana B., and Winfrey, Kelly L.. 2009. “Have You Come a Long Way, Baby? Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Sexism in 2008 Campaign Coverage.” Communication Studies 60 (4): 326–43.
Carroll, Susan J. 2002. “Representing Women: Congresswomen's Perceptions of their Representational Roles.” In Women Transforming Congress, ed. Rosenthal, Cindy Simon. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 5068.
Carroll, Susan J. 2009. “Reflections on Gender and Hillary Clinton's Presidential Bid: The Good, the Bad and the Misogynistic.” Politics & Gender 5 (1): 120.
Carroll, Susan J., and Schreiber, Ronnee. 1997. “Media Coverage of Women in the 103rd Congress.” In Women, Media, and Politics, ed. Norris, Pippa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 131–49.
Clayton, Dewey M. 2010. The Presidential Campaign of Barack Obama: A Critical Analysis of a Racially Transcendent Strategy. New York: Routledge.
Cohen, Marty, Karol, David, Noel, Hans, and Zaller, John. 2008. The Party Decides. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cook, Timothy E. 1986. “House Members as National Newsmakers: The Effects of Televising Congress.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 11 (2): 203–26.
Cook, Timothy E. 1989. Making Laws and Making News: Media Strategies in the U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
Cook, Timothy E. 1998. Governing with the News: The News Media as a Political Institution, Chicago: University of Chicago.
Dolan, Kathleen. 2001. “Electoral Context, Issues, and Voting for Women in the 1990s.” Women & Politics 23 (1/2): 2136.
Dolan, Kathleen. 2014. When Does Gender Matter? Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections. New York: Oxford University Press.
Entman, Robert M. 1994. “Representation and Reality in the Portrayal of Blacks on Network Television News.” Journalism Quarterly 71 (3): 509–20.
Falk, Erika. 2010. Women for President: Media Bias in Eight Campaigns, 2nd ed. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press.
Farnsworth, Stephen J., and Lichter, S. Robert. 2011. “Network Television's Coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election.” American Behavioral Scientist 55 (4): 354–70.
Frederick, Brian. 2011. “Gender Turnover and Roll Call Voting in the U.S. Senate.” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 32 (3): 193210.
Galdieri, Chris, Parsneau, Kevin, and Granberg-Rademacker, J. Scott. 2012. “Superdelegate Decisionmaking during the 2008 Primaries.” Politics & Policy 40 (4): 680703.
Gershon, Sarah Allen. 2008a. “Media Coverage of Female and Minority Representatives.” Presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, MA.
Gershon, Sarah Allen. 2008b. “Communicating Female and Minority Interests Online: A Study of Web Site Issue Discussion among Female, Latino, and African American Members of Congress.” The International Journal of Press/Politics 13: 120–40.
Gershon, Sarah Allen. 2012. “When Race, Gender, and the Media Intersect: Campaign News Coverage of Minority Congresswomen.” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 33 (2): 105–25.
Greco Larson, Stephanie, and Andrade, Lydia M.. 2005. “Determinants of National Television News Coverage of Women in the House of Representatives, 1987–1998. Congress and the Presidency, 32 (1): 4961.
Groeling, Tim. 2010. When Politicians Attack! Party Cohesion in the Media, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gronke, Paul, Koch, Jeffrey, and Wilson, J. Matthew. 2003. “Follow the Leader? Presidential Approval, Presidential Support, and Representatives’ Electoral Fortunes.” The Journal of Politics 65 (3): 785808.
Hasecke, Edward B., Meinke, Scott R., and Scott, Kevin M.. 2012. “Congressional Endorsements in the Presidential Nomination Process: Democratic Superdelegates in the 2008 Election.” American Politics Research 41 (1): 99121.
Haseke, Edward B., and Mycoff, Jason D.. 2007. “Party Loyalty and Legislative Success: Are Loyal Majority Party Members More Successful in the House of Representatives? Political Research Quarterly 60 (4): 601–17.
Heldman, Caroline, Carroll, Susan J., and Olson, Stephanie. 2005. “She Brought Only a Skirt: Print Media Coverage of Elizabeth Dole's Bid for the Republican Presidential Nomination. Political Communication 22 (3): 315–35.
Hess, Stephen. 1986. The Ultimate Insiders: U.S. Senators in the National Media, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
Holt, Lanier Frush. 2012. “Hillary and Barack: Will Atypical Candidates Lead to Atypical Coverage?Howard Journal of Communications 23 (3): 272–87.
Huddy, Leonie, and Carey, Tony E. Jr. 2009. “Group Politics Redux: Race and Gender in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primaries.” Politics & Gender 5 (1): 8196.
Huddy, Leonie, Cassese, Erin, and Lizotte, Mary Kate. 2008. “Sources of Political Unity and Disunity among Women: Placing the Gender Gap in Perspective.” In Voting The Gender Gap, ed. Whittaker, Lois D.. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.
Ifill, Gwen. 2009. The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. New York: Doubleday.
Junn, Jane. 2009. “Making Room for Women of Color: Race and Gender Categories in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election.” Politics & Gender 5 (1): 105–10.
Kahn, Kim Fridkin. 1996. The Political Consequences of Being a Woman. New York: Columbia University Press.
Kedrowski, Karen. 1996. Media Entrepreneurs and the Media Enterprise in Congress. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Lawrence, Regina G., and Rose, Melody. 2010. Hillary Clinton's Race for the White House: Gender Politics and the Media on the Campaign Trail. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Lee, Frances. 2008. Dividers, not Uniters: Presidential Leadership and Senate Partisanship, 1981–2004. The Journal of Politics 70 (4): 914–28.
Loomis, Burdett. 1988. The New American Politician. New York: Basic Books.
Miller, Melissa K., Peake, Jeffrey S., and Boulton, Brittany A.. 2010. “Testing the Saturday Night Live Hypothesis: Fairness and Bias in Newspaper Coverage of Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign.” Politics & Gender 6 (2): 169–98.
Niven, David. 2002. Tilt? The Search for Media Bias. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Niven, David. 2004. “A Fair Test of Media Bias: Party, Race, and Gender in Coverage of the 1992 House Banking Scandal. Polity 36 (4): 637–49.
Niven, David, and Zilber, Jeremy. 2001a. “How Does She Have Time for Kids and Congress? Views on Gender and Media Coverage from House Offices.” Women & Politics 23 (1/2): 147–65.
Niven, David, and Zilber, Jeremy. 2001b. “Do Women and Men in Congress Cultivate Different Images? Evidence from Congressional Web Sites. Political Communication 18 (4): 395405.
Panagopoulos, Costas, and Wielhouwer, Peter W.. 2008. “Polls and Elections: The Ground War 2000–2004: Strategic Targeting in Grassroots Campaigns.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 38 (2): 347–62.
Reeves, Keith. 1997. Voting Hopes or Fears? New York: Oxford University Press.
Sanbonmatsu, Kira. 2003. “Gender-Related Political Knowledge and the Descriptive Representation of Women.” Political Behavior 25 (4): 367–88.
Schaffner, Brian F., and Gadson, Mark. 2004. “Reinforcing Stereotypes? Race and Local Television News Coverage of Congress.” Social Science Quarterly 85 (3): 604–23.
Schaffner, Brian F., and Sellers, Patrick J.. 2003. “The Structural Determinants of Local Congressional News Coverage.” Political Communication 20 (1): 4157.
Sellers, Patrick J. 2010. Cycles of Spin: Strategic Communication in the U.S. Congress. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sellers, Patrick J. 2002. “Winning Media Coverage in the U.S. Congress.” In U.S. Senate Exceptionalism, ed. Oppenheimer, Bruce I.. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 132–53.
Shapiro, Robert Y., and Majahan, Harpreet. 1986. “Gender Differences in Policy Preferences: A Summary of Trends from the 1960s to the 1980s.” Public Opinion Quarterly 50 (1): 4261.
Simien, Evelyn. 2009. “Clinton and Obama: The Impact of Race and Sex on the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primaries. In Winning the presidency 2008, ed. Crotty, William J.. New York: Paradigm Publishers.
Sinclair, Barbara. 1990. “Washington Behavior and Home-State Reputation: The Impact of National Prominence on Senators’ Images.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 15 (4): 475–94.
Sinclair-Chapman, Valeria, and Price, Melanye. 2008. “Black Politics, the 2008 Election, and the (im)Possibility of Race Transcendence.” PS: Political Science and Politics 41 (4): 739–45.
Swers, Michele L. 2013. Women in the Club: Gender & Policymaking in the U.S. Senate. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Ward, Orlanda. 2016a. “Media Framing of Black Women's Campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives.” In Distinct Identities: Minority Women in U.S. Politics, ed. Brown, Nadia E. and Gershon, Sarah Allen. New York: Routledge, 153–70.
Ward, Orlanda. 2016b. “Seeing Double: Race, Gender, and Coverage of Minority Women's Campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives. Politics & Gender 12 (2): 317–43.
Wolak, Jennifer. 2006. “Battleground Strategies for Citizen Engagement.” Political Research Quarterly 59 (3): 353–61.
Wolbrecht, Christina. 2000. The Politics of Women's Rights: Parties, Positions, and Change. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
Zilber, Jeremy, and Niven, David. 2000a. Racialized Coverage of Congress: The News in Black and White. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Zilber, Jeremy, and Niven, David. 2000b. “Stereotypes in the News: Media Coverage of African-Americans in Congress.” Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 5 (1): 3249.
Zilber, Jeremy, and Niven, David. 2001. “Do Women and Men in Congress Cultivate Different Images? Evidence from Congressional Websites.” Political Communication 18 (4): 395405.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 35
Total number of PDF views: 93 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 441 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 28th September 2017 - 24th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.