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Some Dared Call It Torture: Cultural Resonance, Abu Ghraib, and a Selectively Echoing Press

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This study draws upon research on “indexing” and “cascading activation” to explore U.S. political and news discourse surrounding the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Specifically, we systematically analyze White House, military, congressional, and news messages. In so doing, we incorporate scholarship on social identity theory to suggest why news media challenge certain White House frames but uncritically echo others. Our data demonstrate that White House frames were consistently challenged by Democrats in the opposing party, but that these competing congressional messages were largely absent in news coverage. These results challenge previous research on news coverage of Abu Ghraib. We discuss how these patterns align with and expand Entman's cascading activation model of press‐state relations, and consider the implications for future scholarship.
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA 2: Department of Political Science, Bellevue College, Bellevue, WA 98007, USA 3: Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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