This case study examines the Tiger Woods sex scandal using second-level agenda setting and attribute priming as its theoretical structures. It approaches the case through the compelling-arguments hypothesis to explain the transfer of salience from the media agenda to the public agenda. A content analysis of print and broadcast media is employed to determine the dominance of scandal stories in general, and the “sex/adultery” attribute in particular, on the media agenda. This study also uses attribute priming to measure the presence of opinion and its direction in the public, after exposure to the scandal stories. The data that form the public agenda come from a nationally representative survey of the American public, as well as online search queries on Google.
Claudia Kozman is with the School of Journalism, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.