The purpose of this article is to assess the influence of interest groups over news content. In particular, I explore the possibility that political advertising campaigns affect the tenor and framing of newspaper coverage in health policy debates. To do so, I compare newspaper coverage of the Patients' Bill of Rights debate in 1999 in five states that were subject to extensive advertising campaigns with coverage in five comparison states that were not directly exposed to the advocacy campaigns. I find significant differences in coverage depending on the presence or absence of paid advertising campaigns, and conclude that readers were exposed to different perspectives and arguments about managed care regulation if the newspapers they read were published in states targeted by political advertisements. Specifically, newspaper coverage was 17 percent less likely to be supportive of managed care reform in states subject to advertising campaigns designed to foment opposition to the Patients' Bill of Rights. Understanding the ability of organized interests and political actors to successfully promote their preferred issue frames in a dynamic political environment is particularly important in light of the proliferation of interest groups, the prevalence of multimillion-dollar political advertising campaigns, and the health care reform debate under President Barack Obama.
Aaron Rabinowitz; Media Framing and Political Advertising in the Patients' Bill of Rights Debate. J Health Polit Policy Law 1 October 2010; 35 (5): 771–795. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-2010-027
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