The framing of Hillary Clinton: a content analysis of media discourse on Clinton's candidacy in the 2016 election

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Communication


Department of Communication


Advisor: Kelly Vibber


This study examines the media discourse surrounding the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, specifically to determine if a gender bias existed in the way first time female nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was described. Research shows that gender-specific language is used to predict leader ability and define leader success in business and in politics. As the first female nominee of a major political party for president, Hillary Clinton enacted a role that has typically been filled by a man and, therefore, defined in masculine terms. Through the use of emergent coding, the study identifies themes in the way two key media outlets - New York Times and Washington Post - set the political agenda related to the 2016 presidential election particularly in terms of language used to define the leadership style of Secretary Clinton. Four main themes emerged: Women in Leadership, Faithfulness and Weakness, Privacy and Caution, and Credibility. These themes are defined and implications described. Directions for future research are presented.


Clinton, Hillary Rodham Press coverage, Women political candidates Press coverage, Presidential candidates Sex differences, Presidential candidates Press coverage, Presidents Elections Press coverage, Mass media and women, Communication, Gender, Mass Media, presidential election, Hillary Clinton, media framing theory, leadership, women in politics

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Copyright © 2017, author