Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Faces of Congress: Contemporary Media and Communication Strategy in the House of Representatives

I examine the systematic patterns underlying the amount of media attention obtained by members of Congress from national television broadcasts, including ideological cable news outlets and Sunday morning political talk shows. I posit that members’ media visibility is determined by a two-step process: first, the perceived utility of media appearances for members in pursuing their goals, and second, by their ability to satisfy the media’s crucial objectives of highlighting powerful figures and political conflict. Based on my theory, I predict that ideologically extreme members will make up a disproportionate share of members interviewed on cable news, while institutional leaders within Congress (such as party and committee leaders) will comprise a disproportionate share of members interviewed on the Sunday talk shows. I find that institutional leaders make significantly more appearances on Sunday shows than other members, while ideologically extreme members do not gain a substantively meaningful boost in visibility from these shows relative to less extreme members. Meanwhile, institutional leaders and ideologically extreme members make significantly more appearances on cable news than other members of Congress. My results display that the faces of Congress presented to the public differ across media types, with the goal-seeking behavior of members appearing to reinforce the permanent campaign in Congress.