Albert Wong and Valerie Belair-Gagnon
October 23, 2013
Since June 6, the world has been roiled by an ongoing series of disclosures based on Edward Snowden’s document leaks, with coverage led by the Guardian and the Washington Post, about clandestine mass surveillance conducted, with little oversight, by the NSA and its international partners.
Public perceptions of these surveillance revelations are affected not only by the NSA’s actual actions, but also by the news coverage of the government’s spying programs. Previous studies have shown that the latter factor can have a profound effect on public opinion. Given the importance of this issue, we decided to analyze major US newspapers’ “post-Snowden” coverage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to determine if there was an overall bias in either a pro- (traditionally conservative) or anti-surveillance (traditionally liberal) direction.
The results were unexpected, and quite remarkable.