Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

This paper examines the role of gender in the media coverage of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Ted Cruz in the 2016 election cycle. Analyzing newspaper articles, Twitter pages, and campaign advertisements, I compare the media coverage of these three candidates to their own campaign messages. My findings reveal that Clinton received more personal coverage than Sanders or Cruz, despite less of an emphasis on personal characteristics in her own campaign materials. I also find that Clinton received less coverage on “feminine issues” such as women’s health and paid family leave, despite her own campaign’s focus on these issues. I did not find these divergences in either the media coverage of Sanders or Cruz. Finally, I find that Clinton received substantially more negative personal coverage than her two male counterparts. I conclude that although common media narratives surrounding Clinton as a politically calculating, unfeminine, corrupt, politician are partially the result of her long career in the public spotlight and her status as the frontrunner in this race, they are also substantially exacerbated by her position as the only woman who has come this close to breaking the political glass ceiling. The media’s uneven focus on masculine issues in Clinton’s media coverage, I argue, contributes to and reinforces the construction of these narratives.

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