GRASS-ROOTS PULL

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

Memo to politi­cians who rel­ish slick sound bites: News cov­er­age of “Washington politi­cians and their rhetoric “ has wan­ing in­flu­ence on the Amer­i­can pub­lic, says a study by Michi­gan State Univer­sity, just pub­lished in Pub­lic Opinion Quar­terly.

“In­stead, cit­i­zens are more apt to be swayed by news sto­ries about grass-roots protests and lo­cal events,” says Cor­win Smidt, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence who com­pared the im­pact of Washington de­bate and ac­tivism on pub­lic opinion polls.

“What this says is that maybe politi­cians can’t use the bully pul­pit to in­flu­ence pub­lic opinion through the news me­dia as much as many peo­ple thought they could,” Mr. Smidt con­tin­ues. “The news me­dia are still the gate­keep­ers . . . but every­thing they cover does not have the same ef­fect. It ac­tu­ally may be the sto­ry­line within the news that pro­vokes opinion.”

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