Post-9/11 attitudes

American liberals who relied on television for news in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks were much likelier to support the expansion of police powers than those who watched little TV. Heavy newspaper-reading liberals were less likely to support restricting freedom of speech that those who did not read newspapers much. Three communications researchers interviewed 800 people in Tompkins County, N.Y. in the fall of 2001, assessing their political leanings and where they got their news. 41 per cent of habitual news-watching liberals favoured increased police powers, but only 20 per cent of liberals who watched little television did so. Between 50 and 60 per cent of conservatives supported such measures, no matter how much television they watched.

Among liberals, increased newspaper readership lessened support for limiting freedom of speech: 39 per cent of those who read little and 31 per cent of those who read a lot were in favour. Among conservatives though, support for such limits increased slightly with newspaper readership, reaching almost 70 per cent for heavy readers. Dr. Dietram Scheufele, the lead investigator, thinks this is because different newspapers offer readers competing viewpoints, from which they can choose the one they agree with the most.

Source: Mass Communications & Society

Stay up to date. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, sent straight to your inbox:

* indicates required