All the News that's (Un)Fit to Print: A News Media Analysis of U.S. Perspectives on Election Security from 2016 to 2020

Still, Caroline, Global Studies, University of Virginia
Furia, Peter, AS-Global Studies, University of Virginia

Both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections raised concerns over U.S. election security and integrity. In 2016, the intelligence community confirmed Russian interference in the form of a targeted disinformation campaign and the hacking of the Democratic National Convention. In 2020, concerns shifted to a more domestic nature when top public officials like President Trump promoted widespread, baseless claims of voter and election fraud. This thesis examines the extent to which American perception of election security changed between the 2016 and 2020 elections, focusing specifically on how news publications and social media shaped national narratives surrounding misinformation. Significantly, my analysis supports the general conclusions that the framing of election interference in 2020 shifted to domestic rather than foreign actors, and that this brand of disinformation politics will continue to impact both future elections and American confidence in our democratic institutions.

BA (Bachelor of Arts)
election security, misinformation, disinformation, public opinion
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