Corporate Media Framing of Political Rhetoric: The Creation of a Moral Panic in the wake of September 11th 2001

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study is to examine the rhetoric and subsequent media framing of President George W. Bush during the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and how such frames have been able to generate and sustain a national moral panic. While a number of scholars have explored the effect of presidential rhetoric in generating panic (53; Cohen 1972; Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994; Hawdon 2001; Kappeler and Kappeler 2004), none have evaluated the effect of media framing on such rhetoric. This study will use three major sources of data: (1) National Public Opinion Data from Gallup Poll, (2) daily USA Today news articles, and (3) rates of international terrorism from the U.S. State Department. Employing a content analysis of USA Today articles pertaining to terrorism, I will evaluate the relevant themes used by the corporate media to frame the Bush administration's rhetoric, and further analyze the relationship between such rhetoric and the collective conscience across the eight years of the Bush presidency, while controlling for rates of international terrorism.



terrorism, social solidarity, corporate media, 9/11, moral panic theory