A new study from Sarah Sobieraj & Jeffrey Berry in Political Communication shows that while the tactics are largely the same for liberal and conservative media, conservative media use significantly more outrage speech than liberal media. An abstract from their paper From Incivility to Outrage: Political Discourse in Blogs, Talk Radio, and Cable News:
Most research on incivility in American politics focuses on its effects on citizens’ political attitudes and behaviors, in spite of remarkably little data on the extent to which political discourse is actually uncivil. Those studies that do examine content focus on negative campaign advertisements, overlooking more egregious forms of political incivility that penetrate the broader media landscape. In this study, we attempt to conceptualize and measure more dramatic types of political incivility, which we term “outrage.” Outrage discourse involves efforts to provoke a visceral response from the audience, usually in the form of anger, fear, or moral righteousness through the use of overgeneralizations, sensationalism, misleading or patently inaccurate information, ad hominem attacks, and partial truths about opponents. Scrutinizing 10 weeks of data from political blogs, talk radio, and cable news analysis programs, we demonstrate that outrage discourse is extensive, takes many different forms (we examine 13 different types), and spans media formats. We also show that while outrage tactics are largely the same for liberal and conservative media, conservative media use significantly more outrage speech than liberal media. It is our hope that introducing more concrete information about the actual content of political media will render existing research on potential effects more meaningful.