Social scientists have long argued that mainstream media set the political agenda. It is not clear, however, if mass media affects how individuals make their claims. To explore this issue, myself, Christian Vaccaro, Miriam Sessions, and Heather Mauney, analyzed 2,509 emails sent to Jeb Bush about the Terri Schiavo case.
If you don’t remember the case, here is the overview:
Schiavo, who collapsed in 1990 as the result of unknown causes, became a touchstone for national debate in 2000 when a Pinellas County court granted her husband permission to withdrawal her hydration and nutrition. Terri’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, opposed the decision and turned to the political system for recourse. With the help of conservative, Christian organizations, the Schindlers’ took to the airwaves and successfully organized a vigil outside of Terri’s hospice. Additionally, conservative Christian groups presented Bush a petition with 180,000 signatures asking him to prevent Schiavo’s death…
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