The Path to Political Substance: Exploring the Mediated Discourse Surrounding Controversial Media Texts

Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article proceeds from the assumption that entertainment texts-particularly controversial ones-function in a broad intertextual field and that their political significance does not lie solely in their value as stand-alone texts, or in their direct influence on political knowledge, attitudes, opinions, and behaviors, but in their ability to instigate politically relevant discussions in other media venues. Focusing on the mediated discourse surrounding two controversial U.S. docudramas, The Reagans and The Path to 9/11, this study examines the political qualities of the public discourse surrounding these docudramas in the U.S. news media and investigates which factors were significant predictors of political substance in this discourse. Based on a distinction between "issue substance" and "media substance" as the two major types of political substance that emerge in the discourse surrounding controversial texts, the analysis demonstrates how these types of political substance varied across the two docudramas and across various dimensions of the discourse, among them the time in which the discussion took place. The analytical framework presented in this article is offered as a platform for future examinations of the contribution of media-centered political scandals to public discourse, the conditions under which entertainment texts spur substantive political discussions, and the complex interactions between journalism, entertainment, and politics in contemporary media environments.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)582-601
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • entertainment and politics
  • intertextuality
  • media scandals
  • political discourse


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