Please help me with the following questions about media and politics. 1. When information is "leaked" from government to the press, the leak is often due to: the lack of any legal provision for...

Please help me with the following questions about media and politics.

1. When information is "leaked" from government to the press, the leak is often due to: the lack of any legal provision for government secrecy; the heavy dependence of government on the mass media for information; deliberate attempts by officials to test public reaction to certain ideas and policies; or the actions of foreign agents

2. How do the mass media influence the socialization process? They reflect the government's position on most important issues; they undermine popular support for the political system; they play contradictory roles sometimes promoting popular support for government and sometimes eroding public confidence in it; or they promote popular support for the political system

3. A study of presidential campaign coverage on television news has shown that instead of partisan bias in such coverage, there is actually bias against: underdogs; candidates from wealthy families; incumbents and front-runners; or unphotogenic candidates

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best answer to your first question is Option C.  Most leaks (though by no means all) from government officials are attempts to test public reactions to proposals.  This is so pervasive that it has a name.  These leaks are called “trial balloon” leaks.  There are often occasions when government officials want to propose new policies but are worried about how those policies will “play” with the public.  They do not want to come out and openly propose the policies for fear of damaging their political standing if the policies prove to be unpopular.  Therefore, they sometimes arrange for the proposals to be leaked to reporters.  When the leak occurs, they watch the reaction.  If the reaction is positive, they go ahead and make the proposal, but if the reaction is negative, they can deny that the leak was true.  This gives them a way of “testing the waters” without too much risk to themselves.

For your second question, the answer is Option C.  The mass media plays a contradictory role in the process of political socialization.  Sometimes the media influences us to support our government, but sometimes it influences us in ways that make us lose our faith in that government.  The mass media sometimes encourages us to support our governmental system.  It provides coverage of many events in which government officials are made to look good or at least look important.  For example, the media covers the president lighting the national Christmas tree or conducting an Easter egg roll on the White House lawn.  These things show the president in a good light and increase our support for the system.  The media also runs video or pictures of leaders in front of backdrops (staged by the leaders’ handlers) that make them look patriotic (flags), important (government buildings, presidential seals), or warm and personable (staged interactions with regular people).  However, the mass media also digs into our politicians’ actions and their personal lives, trying to find scandal that will sell newspapers or increase ratings.  The media are quick to report to us whenever they find any whiff of scandal on the part of our leaders.  This tends to reduce our trust in our system.

For your final question, the best answer is also Option C.  The media’s bias is often against incumbents and frontrunners.  This is not because of any ideological leanings on the part of the media.  Instead, it is because of their need to have good stories.  In a presidential campaign, people are more interested if the race appears to be close.  This is not surprising as we, for example, do not usually continue to watch a sporting event if it is not close.  The media, therefore, wants the races to be as close as possible so people will continue to pay attention.  Therefore, it is in their interest to highlight stories that make incumbents and frontrunners look bad.  This makes it more likely that the incumbents or frontrunners will lose some of their lead, making the election more exciting.