Are we all Charlie? How media priming and framing affect immigration policy preferences after terrorist attacks


Terrorist attacks negatively affect support for immigration policy, and this has been linked to the extensive media coverage of terrorism. Yet, this coverage may also have a moderating effect. This article uses the timing of the fielding of the European Social Survey, which took place during the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks, as a natural experiment. Because the media coverage of the attacks varied between France and other European countries, it is possible to study how differences in the media framing and priming of the attacks affected attitudes. The expected negative effect on immigration policy preferences is found outside France, but not within France. This study’s findings lend support to a moderating effect of the media coverage of terrorist attacks, both as a framing effect that influenced the perceived relevance of the attacks to immigration attitudes and a priming effect that primed the public with tolerant French Republican values.

West European Politics, 44 (2)