Moderator Bias in Television Coverage of an Election Campaign with no Political Advertising

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TV journalists may influence election outcomes through the way in which they cover election campaigns. This is perhaps more of an issue in countries with no political advertising, where the only connection between politicians and voters through the most important medium, television, is mediated by TV journalists. The present article analyzes journalist moderator behavior in an election campaign in which there was no political advertising and no party-controlled election TV programming. Data were collected from election cross-examination programs on the two TV channels covering the 2005 general election in Norway. There was little consistent information for voters across programs. There were significant biases in moderator treatment of politicians along the left/right political divide. The present article may contribute to increased consciousness among journalists of the possibility of moderator bias in this sort of journalistic campaign coverage. Implications for the outcome of the election are discussed.

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