Title page for ETD etd-04142009-113817

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Albrecht, Misty Dawn
URN etd-04142009-113817
Title The Plame Game: Framing a Political Scandal
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Izard, Ralph Committee Chair
Nelson, Richard Committee Member
Postelnicu, Monica Committee Member
  • media bias
  • politcal scandal
  • framing
  • Valerie Plame
Date of Defense 2009-04-01
Availability unrestricted
The media play an important role in society. They interpret political events, actions, policies, and scandals in a manner that citizens can understand. The media use frames to assist in interpretations and descriptions. They may create their own frames or use frames supplied by the political elites. Frames can also lead to biased coverage when used to omit details or present someone in a favorable or unfavorable manner.

This study examines the frames the media used during the coverage of President George W. Bush’s first political scandal, the “Plame Game.” On July 14, 2003, Robert Novak exposed the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame in his syndicated editorial column. Over the next five years the media followed the “Plame Game” scandal using frames to describe the actors and their actions.

A content analysis of three national newspapers shows that the media did use frames in their coverage of this political scandal. The media used frames they created and some that political elites gave them through interviews and press releases. Over the five years, the frames associated with each actor in the “Plame Game” did change. Even though some individual articles are biased in their coverage of the actors in the scandal, statistical results prove that the cumulative coverage of the “Plame Game” was balanced. This means that an equal number of positive and negative frames were used to describe each actor and their actions over the course of five years.

Little research deals with media framing of political scandals. The results of this study can aid in future research of political scandal framing, and can extend the already existing wealth of framing research.

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