Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Lawrence T. Nichols.

Committee Co-Chair

Ronald C. Althouse

Committee Member

Corey Colyer


Historically, the term "bailout" has been used to define the rescuing of an organization in financial distress. A rescue implies that a bailout is voluntary. However, by all accounts, the bailouts in the past nine months have not been voluntary. Media outlets are using the words 'bailout' and 'rescue' interchangeably. Through claims-making and by using the words rescue and bailout interchangeably, the media has socially constructed the word rescue as synonymous with the word bailout and has implied that the bailouts were voluntary and necessary to avert economic disaster and have constructed a social problem. This paper will examine the behavior of the mass media with regard to the federal bailout through a social constructionist approach. It will focus specifically on the overall outcomes of the social constructions of the bailout and compare media coverage before and after the presidential campaign. My examination of the mass media's behavior will compare two print newspapers (the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal) and two national news media outlets (FOX News and MSNBC) that represent both a liberal and a conservative point of view from the time period September 2007 to June 2009.