Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)
International Studies (Arts and Sciences)
Date of Defense
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Armed, unmanned aerial vehicles have been an increasingly important tool of US foreign policy since the George W. Bush era, and emerged as the Barack Obama administration’s weapon of choice. Some say drone strikes are necessary to reduce American casualties abroad and protect lives at home, while others argue they terrorize communities and violate the sovereignty of states throughout the world. Meanwhile, the American public has consistently supported this controversial tactic, while most of the world – including close US allies – oppose it. In this dissertation, I analyze congressional rhetoric, presidential rhetoric and mainstream TV news content regarding the use of drones from 2000 through 2015 and compare the results to nationally representative surveys that measure support and opposition for drone strikes. The findings show a significant relationship between the frequency and types of messages espoused by elites and media, and US public opinion. This result has important implications for the democratic process and the origins of Americans’ perception of the use of force, and shows support for both framing effects and indexing theory.
Drone Strikes; Public Opinion; Indexing; Framing; Agenda Setting
Cohen, Grant M., "Origins of U.S. Public Opinion for Drone Strikes: The Intersection of Elite Rhetoric, Media Coverage, and American Public Opinion, 2000-2015" (2018). Open Access Dissertations. 2068.