Elements of an Echo Chamber: Partisanship and Previous Exposure as Moderators of 'Last Week Tonight's' Media Effects
Scott, Samuel Truett
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The 2016 presidential election cast light on political polarization in the United States. Generally, the discussion regarding polarization in communication scholarship is concerned with selective exposure to partisan media and its effects. The prospect of political ‘echo chambers’ that result worries communication scholars our polarized media is detrimental to democratic discourse. One example of partisan programming is Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (LWT), an acclaimed political comedy program that critiques and comments on contemporary politics with a ‘liberal’ slant. Influenced by the Reinforcing Spirals Framework, the present study finds Democrats are more likely to agree with John Oliver on net neutrality issues, but only if the participants were exposed to John Oliver’s video clip on net neutrality. Similarly, previous exposure to LWT was associated with higher intentions to participate for those exposed to the clip. The results shed light on the process of political polarization in the United States.