Public Diplomacy, Television News, and Muslim Opinion

Erik C. Nisbet*, Matthew C. Nisbet, Dietram A. Scheufele, James E. Shanahan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Scholars agree that extreme anti-American sentiment is pervasive across the predominantly Muslim countries of the world, but disagree about the sources of these negative perceptions. Some researchers point to cultural, religious, and value divisions as primary factors shaping negative perceptions of the United States, while others emphasize internal Muslim state politics, comparatively low levels of economic and social development, and failure to establish civil society and democracy as the key contributors to anti-American opinion. Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the second Gulf War, a number of U.S. policymakers and commentators have zeroed in on television news, specifically the new pan-Arab television network Al Jazeera, as an additional major contributor. In this study, the authors test competing claims regarding the sources of anti-American sentiment with a special focus on the impact of television news. Using survey data gathered from nine predominantly Muslim countries by the Gallup Organization in spring 2002, the authors examine the relative contributions of macro-level socioeconomic and political influences, individual-level demographic factors, and TV news use to anti-American attitudes. They find that attention to TV news coverage contributes significantly to anti-American perceptions after all controls and that the type of TV network to which individuals turn for their news has either amplifying or buffering effects on the main effects of attention to news coverage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-37
Number of pages27
JournalHarvard International Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Al Jazeera
  • Anti-Americanism
  • Arab media
  • Middle East
  • Muslim opinion
  • Public diplomacy
  • Television news
  • Transnational media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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