Party identification: The covert influence on media's construction and portrayal of women's political identities
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Much scholarly attention has been paid to the differences and similarities that exist in media coverage of men and women. However, whether differences exist in media coverage among different groups of women remains largely ambiguous. This study aims to contribute to this understanding by analyzing women officeholders' media coverage along partisan lines. A content analysis of newspaper stories from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today is used to examine and test for the possible statistical significance of the relationship among gender, partisanship, and media coverage in the first session of the 112th Congress. The newspaper stories are analyzed in terms of the kinds of issues that are discussed in relation to each officeholder and whether these issues were "masculine" or "feminine" in nature. Additionally, the articles were analyzed in terms of the use of gendered image stereotypes, the theme of the story, and the overall tone used. Based on this analysis, it can be concluded that differences do exist in types of issues that are discussed and the themes and tones used in the media coverage that Republican and Democratic women officeholders receive. In terms of the feminine issues analyzed, the Republican women are more often discussed in relation to the specific issues of Healthcare Reform, Prescriptions/Medicine, and Immigration, whereas the Democratic women are more often connected to the issues of Medicaid/Medicare and Crime/Gun Rights. Additionally, the Democratic women officeholders are more often discussed in relation to masculine issues in general, as well as the broad issue category of Taxes/Economy and the specific issue of Federal Budget/National Debt and are significantly more often covered using the Women's Theme. In the coverage of the Republican women officeholders, on the other hand, more substantive criticisms and mentions of the officeholders' children appear. Implications of these differences and avenues for further research are discussed.