Many Americans hold distorted views of elected officials and, as our study shows, the blame is due partly to our ideological biases and partly to mass media. Analyzing a nationally representative online survey, we corroborate recent research that found that one in five Americans still believe president Barack Obama is a Muslim and that almost seven in ten mistakenly think Sarah Palin, and not Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey, was the first to say I can see Russia from my house. Although race, political ideology, and born-again or evangelical Christian status were the primary drivers of misperceptions about Obama's faith, media use had a more crucial role in predicting the more widespread misperception about Palin. Misattribution of the Fey quote to Palin was greatest among heavy viewers of traditional news media and late-night TV comedy, which is suggestive of the lamestream media effect often espoused by prominent Republican figures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science