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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.

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