I'm an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Loyola University Maryland. My research focuses on public opinion, political entertainment and comedy, elections and political engagement, and new media. I teach courses on communication theory, political communication, popular culture, political entertainment, the Internet and emerging media, and science communication. I often offer media commentary on my research, political comedy, public opinion, polling, elections, and the new media environment, My comments have been featured in The Washington Post, Slate, Vox, The Wall Street Journal and other major national and international outlets. I also do radio and TV appearances.
Networks And Politics
Gender and Politics
Civic Engagement (youth)
My research focuses on four areas in the field of communication: (1) the effects of exposure and attention to political comedy and entertainment, (2) public opinion and citizen participation on controversial political issues, (3) new media, and (4) public engagement with science.My scholarship sits at the intersection of research on mass media effects and political communication. My specific areas of interest and expertise include public opinion, hybrid media, political entertainment, civic and political engagement, research methods, computational social science, election studies, celebrity politics, science communication, and political tolerance.I am particularly interested in understanding how various forms of hybrid media like political entertainment and comedy are redefining our shared mass media experience. At the same time, I also closely study what factors influence public opinion toward and engagement with controversial or “wedge” political issues, particularly those with scientific and/or moral dimensions like the same-sex marriage debate or climate change.
In this study, we examine the extent to which people boycotted the Trump family brand during the general election campaign, as well as whether people who boycotted the brand were active in other forms of political participation. Specifically, we analyze original survey data collected in October 2016 to explore the possible connections between the marketplace and electoral engagement. The results show that about 19.3% of people who intended to vote for someone other than Trump boycotted the Trump family brand. In addition, people who engaged in boycotts were also active in protests and signing petitions. These findings have important implications for the study and conceptualization of political consumerism.
The research explores what happens when Donald Trump responds critically to Saturday Night Live (SNL) via Twitter. Analyzing data from a December 2016 controlled experiment (N = 325), the results suggest that being exposed to Trump’s social media engagement with SNL enhances perceptions of Trump’s celebrity authenticity and encourages viewers to see Trump as more experienced and well informed. The effect of exposure to Trump’s social media response on perceptions is significant even after controlling for prior disposition toward Trump. In effect, the research suggests that viewing Trump’s social media response encourages viewers to discount the critical satire in the original SNL content, offering viewers an alternative narrative or counterargument. The implications of this disruptive engagement with political comedy are discussed.
Analyzing data from the LA Jewish Journal Survey conducted in July 2015 (N = 501), the study empirically examines the relative influence of politics versus place on support for the Iran Nuclear Agreement among members of the American-Jewish community. The results suggest that personal politics, or identifying as a Democrat and holding liberal political views, has the largest impact on support for the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Place, or having been to Israel, has the largest influence on opinion strength or supporting or opposing the deal rather than maintaining a position of ambivalence. The strategic implications of these findings for key stakeholders, including politicians, ethnic news media organizations, and lobbying groups, are discussed.
This study considers the effects of exposure to political satire versus traditional news on issue-specific learning and engagement. Using data from an experiment conducted in January 2016 (N = 296), we employ ANOVA analysis to test the differential effects of exposure to net neutrality coverage from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight versus ABC News on knowledge gain, issue importance, and perceived issue difficulty. Pairwise comparisons suggest that political comedy is as good a source as news for knowledge gain, but that news exposure is more important for evaluations of issue importance. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings given the increasing size of the political satire audience and the viral reach of these comedy programs.
We test whether connective use of social media mobilizes individuals to engage in political consumerism. Analyzing data from a 2013 survey of LGBT adults (N = 1,197), we find that those who use social media for connective activities, (e.g., to meet new LGBT friends, discuss LGBT issues), are significantly more likely to engage in boycotts or buycotts to promote equality. We find significant interactions between connective social media use and political interest. Specifically, connective social media use mobilizes people with low levels of political interest to participate and reinforces the likelihood that people with high levels of political interest participate.
In the past decade various studies have examined how political humor may influence various political attitudes and voting behavior; whether it affects learning, cognition and media literacy, how it might shape political participation; how people process different forms of political humor; and more. This book is devoted to anticipating and addressing where the field of political humor and its effects will move in the next generation of scholarship, exploring the continued evolution of the study of political humor as well as the normative implications of these developments. It includes research accounting for important changes and developments "on the ground" in the political humor landscape. These include the fact that the cadre of late-night television hosts have completely changed in the past 3 years; there are now more late night television choices; and many hosts have become more overtly political in their presentations. Recommended for scholars of communication, media studies, and political science.
Commentary on Taylor Swift's role during Election 2018
Commentary on late night comedy and education issue
A politician walks into a joke. Does she get elected?
Commentary on satire's coverage of technology issues for Slate
Late-night shows are trying to make 2016 voters skeptical of Trump. It's probably working.