Does Media Coverage of Bank Scandals Increase Preferences for Financial Regulation?

When: 22 Mar 2021, 14:15-15:30
Where: Zoom
Speaker: Pepper D. Culpepper

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The media can raise the political relevance of non-salient policy issues by reporting scandals or allegations of misconduct in the issue area. Can such media coverage influence public opinion on the issue? We explore this question with a focus on the area of bank scandals and financial regulation. Drawing insights from the literatures on media influence and public opinion, we argue that media coverage of bank scandals can increase voters’ preferences for financial regulation. We argue that this happens as scandals affect voters’ emotions and perceptions of interest alignment. We test our argument using original panel survey data with embedded experiments that we collected in six countries. The results provide partial support for our argument and present a nuanced picture of how media coverage of scandals in unfamiliar issue areas can shape public opinion. The paper contributes to studies on media effects, voter attitudes, and the political economy of regulation.