PERICLES (Political Economics of Reforms, Institutional Complexity, and Legislative Evaluation Studies) is pleased to announce its next webinar, which will take place in a hybrid format.
Please find below the abstract of the paper.
Televised Debates and Emotionality in Politics: Evidence from C-SPAN
We study the effect of televised broadcasts of floor debates on the rhetorical choices of US Congress Members, focusing on a measure of emotionality constructed using computational linguistics methods. First, we show in a differences-in-differences analysis that the introduction of C-SPAN broadcasts in 1979 increased emotionality in the House relative to the Senate, where televised floor debates were not introduced until later. Second, we use exogenous variation in C-SPAN channel positioning as an instrument for C-SPAN viewership by Congressional district, and show that House Members from districts with higher C-SPAN viewership speak with more emotionality in floor debates. Contra accountability models of transparency, however, C-SPAN has no effect on measures of legislative effort on behalf of constituents. We then compare the effects of direct transparency via C-SPAN to that of mediated transparency via local news coverage of Congress. News coverage has the opposite effect of C-SPAN, increasing legislative effort but with no effect on emotional rhetoric. These results highlight the importance of audience and mediation in the political impacts of higher transparency.