The overwhelming negativity with which the American public views the news media is largely misplaced. Indeed, negative, emotional, and even biased political news coverage has some benefits for the American people-influencing their ability to perceive a clear choice between the two major parties, increasing their willingness to participate in politics, focusing their attention on important issues, improving their political knowledge, and building their own feelings of political efficacy. On the other hand, the news media negatively contribute to trust in government and political compromise, both vital elements in a flourishing democracy. This book is organized to synthesize major findings in political communication research and present original evidence for the book's thesis by examining journalists' own attitudes about news coverage and by conducting detailed analyses that merge content analyses of political news coverage with public opinion data. Shedding much needed light on a complicated issue, this text will be an essential tool for helping students of the media develop a critical eye toward widely held views.