The gestation of the travel ban has a well-documented history. In late 2015, following a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, then-candidate Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” citing Muslims as “a dangerous threat to America.” He asserted that “our nation cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” (Trump, 2015) On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed the Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. The order banned entry for 90 days to the United States to citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries. These “countries of concern,” according to a 2016 law that involved immigration visas, were Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The order also indefinitely suspended entry for refugees from Syria, and prohibited other refugees from coming into the country for 120 days. (Exec. Order No. 13769, 2017) Because of the Executive Order, more than 700 travelers were detained, and around 60,000 visas were revoked (Caldwell, 2017). The suddenness of its introduction triggered confusion and chaos at airports throughout the country, and sparked mass protests and several lawsuits. The following day, a federal judge blocked part of the order. The ruling said that if individuals affected by the Executive Order had arrived in U.S. airports after the order had been issued, then they could not be removed by the authorities; the petitioners could likely establish that their removal “violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.” (Vogue, Watkins, Orjoux, 2017) A subsequent order by a Massachusetts federal judge went a step further, declaring “that the government could not detain or remove those who arrived legally from the seven countries subject to Trump’s order.” As legal challenges to the Executive Order gained pace, President Trump dismissed Attorney General Sally Yates for “refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” Yates, a holdover from the Obama Administration, had instructed Justice Department lawyers to not make legal arguments that defended the Executive Order (Perez, Diamond, 2017). Reacting to the legal challenges, the Trump administration sought to head off adverse judicial determinations by easing travel ban restrictions for green card holders. Legal challenges continued. The travel ban was blocked nationwide by U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, and requests and appeals by the administrator to override the decision were denied (Dewan, 2017). On March 6, the Administration announced a new Executive Order set to take effect March 16. This version removed Iraq from the list of blocked countries, but continued to block citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days, and all refugees for 120 days (Exec. Order No. 13780, 2017). A legal challenge led a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii to halt the introduction of the restrictions. The judge reasoned that the ban breached the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution due to its underlying anti-Muslim basis as expressed in Trump’s campaign statements. A further U.S. District Court judge in Maryland also prevented the Executive Order from being implemented, finding that it violated the Constitution’s protections against religious discrimination. The legal battle continued. The Trump administration appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the order to go into effect until the court could judge its legality later in the year. On June 26, the Supreme Court allowed parts of the travel ban to take effect and agreed to hear oral argument. (DeVogue, 2017) President Trump later signed Presidential Proclamation 9645 on September 24, an action that broadened the previous Executive Order. This revision removed the ban on citizens of Sudan, but continued to restrict travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen while adding Chad, North Korea and Venezuela to the list. In response, the Supreme Court cancelled the hearing to consider the earlier version, effectively ending consideration of the earlier Executive Orders as moot because they had been superseded.On December 4, the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into full effect, pending legal challenges.The travel ban is one of the most significant foreign policy decisions of the Trump Administration. It affects the United States’ relationship with several countries and has a direct impact on thousands of lives. The travel ban also reignited a national debate about the immigration policy of the United States. At the heart of the political and legal battle triggered by the Trump Administration’s travel ban are constitutional issues, deeply held beliefs about religious freedom and a debate over the meaning of America as a land of liberty and justice for all. The travel ban has been among the most controversial of the Trump Administration’s policies and accordingly has dominated the news cycle at major news networks. This research study will examine media coverage of the travel ban and how that coverage might have influenced public opinion on the issue.The mass media plays a crucial part in how the public learns about current politics and government. Studies frequently have found a strong relationship between exposure to framed media coverage and the viewers’ political beliefs (Soroka, 2003, Protess and McCombs, 2016, Entman 2003, Zaller 1994). The media can also influence the public not just by how they cover stories but by choosing what stories to cover in the first place, in a process known as “gatekeeping.” (Shoemaker and Voice, 2009). My research proposal records the amount of time spent covering the travel ban by the major news networks, revealing how significant a story it was considered by each network. However, selection bias can influence reports on the effects of the media’s influence on public opinion as citizens tend to seek out information that reinforces their pre-existing views (Sendhil and Shleifer, 2005).There has been many studies that support the idea that the more politically informed citizens are, the stronger the bond they have to elite and media perspectives on foreign policy issues (Zaller, 1994). Zaller also refers to what he calls a “polarization effect,” in which when elites disagree by party or ideological lines, the more informed a citizen is, the more likely they are to agree with the policy of the elite sharing their ideology. This pushes liberals to have stronger support on the liberal position on partisan issues and conservatives to have stronger support for the conservative position. This is important to my research, as if certain networks were found to cover the travel ban among party lines, it would reinforce the support given by informed idealogues. Media outlets’ biggest political influence stems from their ability to frame the news in a way that puts the subject matter in a positive or negative light. Robert Entman describes framing as “the process of selecting and highlighting some aspects of a perceived reality and enhancing the salience of an interpretation and evaluation of that reality.” (Entman, 2003). In terms of foreign policy, framing can be used to sway public opinion to one side or another, making it more likely the public will agree with the policy favored by the elite. The words and images the media uses to describe events and issues allows them to craft the lens by which the public consumes and focuses on information.There is a large body of existing literature on the media’s impact on public opinion. But there has not been research on the media’s coverage of the fairly recent “travel ban.” This research will complement past extensive studies on how media coverage influences public opinion on Muslims, refugees, and immigrants—three issues that shape personal views on the travel ban.Despite Trump Administration efforts to limit any association with a “Muslim ban,” the Executive Orders clearly affect Muslim communities. The orders focus on countries with Muslim majorities, and the development and history of the travel ban is strongly linked to anti-Muslim sentiment. The legislative journey of the travel ban began with candidate Trump calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Public support or opposition to the travel ban, assumably, is influenced by whether the media portrays the demographic groups it targets as dangerous. One study found that the major networks predominantly have negative coverage of Muslims and refugees; the majority of the reporting covered terrorist activities and conflict (Stone, 2017). The study found that from 2015-2017 there were no monthly periods in which there were more positive than negative stories about Muslims. Given only 45% of Americans say they personally know a Muslim, many people in this country access information about the Muslim community from the media (Mitchell, 2017). Therefore, negative coverage has an outsize influence on the development of negative public opinion about Muslims. This anti-Muslim sentiment is strongly associated with the formation of the travel ban. Similar research has been done on the potential impact to public opinion by media coverage on immigrants and immigration policy. In a 2016 study, researchers analyzed media coverage of a number of important immigration policy issues; “mass deportations, comprehensive immigration reform, and measures focused on immigrant children, such as the DREAM Act” and examined how the different news networks “frames” for the immigration debate (Haynes, Merolla, Karthick, 2016). They found that the networks on the more liberal side of the political spectrum, the majority of the mainstream media, framed immigrants lacking legal status as “undocumented” and used human-interest, often mentioning children, to emphasize the topic of legalization. The right-wing outlets, on the other hand, tended to refer to the immigrants as “illegal”, and focused on impersonal statistics and the legal system. For example, when immigrants were framed as lawbreakers “seeking amnesty”, research participants tended to oppose legalization policies. A positive frame, in which immigrants were portrayed as “living in the United States for a decade or more”, resulted in support for legalization policies increased. The study found that the negative frames influenced public opinion on immigration policies than the positive frames did. As the travel ban is a major piece of immigration policy, the potential impact of the media on the public’s image of immigrants is significant.The media’s portrayal of refugees and migrants also has been studied as having an effect on public opinion. Refugee policy has been a globally heavily debated topic. There are many questions surrounding refugee policy; at the forefront, the obligation of host nations to provide protection for asylum seekers and the costs and benefits of allowing in refugees. If so, how many refugees should be accepted, and what potential threats might refugees provide? A 2013 study analyzed the way the media frames discussion of these questions. It found that negative media portrayals of refugees, including being framed as “enemies at the gate who are attempting to invade Western nations”, spreading infectious diseases, potentially terrorists disguised as refugees resulted in a dehumanization of refugees, negative public opinion, and possibly the grounds for establishing government policies like the travel ban (Esses, Medianu, and Lawson, 2013).Because news coverage of Muslims, refugees, and immigrants was found to be predominantly negative, it would seem logical that a new policy restricting their access to the United States might be framed positively by the media. But the travel ban was among the first actions of the new Trump Administration’s legislation at a time when President Trump often found himself at odds with the mass media. A Harvard study found that the tone of news reports during Trump’s first 100 days was 80 percent negative (Patterson, 2017). Trump’s battle with mainstream media could potentially have a large impact on how the travel ban is framed by the media.There has been extensive research on the impact of media on public opinion, including on how news coverage of Muslims, immigrants and refugees can influence the public. This research project seeks to expand upon this research by studying the media’s effect on a major piece of the Trump Administration’s immigration policy.The first part of the research would analyze how major news outlets (ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and NBC) cover the travel ban. The study would track the amount of time each network spent discussing the travel ban. It would also assess the percentage of travel ban coverage that was cast in a positive, neutral or negative frame. A positive frame would be coverage that directly defended the travel ban, or reported on the travel ban in a favorable way. A negative frame would directly criticize the travel ban, or reported on the travel ban unfavorably. A neutral frame would not found to be predominantly positive or negative. The news coverage included in the sample would be at least 50% about the travel ban and at least 30 seconds long.These two assessments–how much time the travel ban was covered by major media outlets, and secondly, whether news coverage was positive or negative–potentially could reveal whether media coverage shapes opinions about the travel ban. Evaluation of whether travel ban news coverage was predominantly negative or positive, coupled with an evaluation about attitudes about the ban, could shed light on whether news coverage influences public opinion. Overall, my hypothesis for the first part of the research project would be that most networks’ reporting is more negative than positive. This prediction is largely based on the large volume of negative press about the Trump Administration. A possible exception to this would be right-leaning Fox News, which has been significantly more positive while covering the Trump Administration than other major networks. While other networks’ coverage, such as CNN and CBS, was found to be 93% and 91% negative, respectfully, Fox News coverage only slightly leaned negative at 52% (Patterson, 2017)The second part of this study will test whether exposure to a news report has any impact on a subject’s opinion about the travel ban. Framing information about the travel ban in single news report could have a measurable impact on a viewpoint. If that hypothesis is correct, it is possible that repeated, long-term viewing of media coverage likely influences public opinion.The first part of the experiment would consist of a questionnaire provided to a representative sample of the American population. This questionnaire will ask about their political background and orientation. It will ask, “where do you rate yourself on a political spectrum, with 1 being very liberal and 9 being very conservative?” It will gauge their self-reported level of following politics and political coverage. It will ask whether or not they voted. It will ask if they approve or disapprove of President Trump. It will ask for their political party identification, their demographic and socioeconomic information (age, education, family income, relationship status, ethnicity and gender), and media consumption habits (networks watched; newspapers and print media regularly read). The experimenter will divide the sample of respondents into equal groups of 100, according to where they identified themselves on the political spectrum: liberal (Group 1), moderate (Group 2), and conservative group (Group 3). Not all participants in the first part of the experiment will be used in the second; only the first 100 people to be placed into each of the three groups will be used in the second part. This action will theoretically provide equal variance within groups.The second part of the experiment would split each of the three groups in half (Group 1a, Group 1b, etc.) for a total of six groups of 50 people. This step will theoretically provide equal variance within the groups. This separation by political viewpoint will create a research structure that permits half of the conservatives, for example, to be exposed to negative travel ban coverage, while the other half will be exposed to positive coverage. By separating groups by their political spectrum ratings, we can see how political views interact with the dependent variable, limiting a subject’s political views’ effect as a confounding variable. Each group would be asked a series of questions about the travel ban and other related topics, so that the question that is key to our research is masked. That key question, our dependent variable, is this: “What is your opinion of current actions to prevent refugees from entering the U.S. for a period of time, and restricting admission and visa applications of citizens from specific countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen?” Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, strongly disapprove, or have no opinion?” The participants would then be provided with the audio of a clip of a news item discussing the travel ban. The reason to provide subjects with an audio clip instead of asking them to watch a news broadcast is to mask the identity of the news network. This step will control for bias against specific news networks (and is necessary because of attacks on specific networks as “fake news”).One version (Stimulus A) of the news item would have a positive framing of the travel ban, while the other version (Stimulus B) would have a negative framing. One half of the liberal group would receive the positively framed clip (Group 1a) and the other (Group 1b) would receive the negatively framed one. The same process would be repeated with the moderate and conservative groups. They would then be asked to retake the survey about the travel ban and other topics that they had filled out prior to being exposed to the audio clip. The two answers about their opinion on the travel ban would be recorded. If there is a significant difference between the two, the news report (the independent variable) will have affected the subject’s opinion of the travel ban (the dependent variable).My hypothesis is that the results of the study will show a difference between the opinion scores of the travel ban before and after hearing the audio of the news clip. The impact will be more significant among members of the moderate group and those who had cited themselves as being less informed in their self-reported level of political knowledge. If a single clip is enough to sway individual opinion, then repeated coverage over a large population should be effective in impacting the general public’s opinion on the travel ban. There are a few potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out the research. The score participants give themselves on the political spectrum is subjective and may not reflect their true score, but we use that information to split into groups. The main polling question of the subject’s opinion on the travel ban was designed to be as unbiased as possible. However, it has been shown with prior polling questions regarding the travel ban that polling can have a wide range of results due to the wording of the question. Opposition to the policy increases when “President Trump” or “Executive Orders” is mentioned in the polling questions (Enten, 2017). Word choice also seems to influence the results of polling questions that refer to the travel ban as preventing terrorism (more support) rather than preventing the entry of refugees (less support). On the assumption that someone with more political exposure would be less likely to change their opinion because of a single video, political exposure could possibly be an extraneous variable that interferes with interaction of the independent (the framed video) and dependent variable (change in opinion on the travel ban). However, this study could compensate for the extraneous variable by examining patterns between the extraneous variable and dependent variable to see if the extraneous variable had a significant effect on the dependent variable. To examine the impact of media coverage of the travel ban on the public’s stance of the ban, my proposed experiment analyzes two elements. First, an investigation of the framing of reporting on the ban by the major news networks will determine the potential impact of the media coverage by determining if the overall slant of the reporting is positive or negative. This can also allow us to analyze the connection between the media consumption of the subjects and their opinion on the ban. Our second part of the experiment is focused on the potential of news coverage to change the subject’s opinion on the travel ban. If the coverage is revealed to have an effect, then watching predominantly negative reports on the travel ban could cause the public to have a negative view of the ban, and vice versa.