People often reject new information, especially when it does not fit their prior beliefs. But do publics in advanced democracies reject information from public and private media outlets in the same way? We examine this question in the form of the media’s pro-government bias in the under-examined case of Japan. By combining unique textual data with an original survey experiment, we document that (1) people generally tend to reject pro-government biased information that overly praises government actions; but (2) the reasons why people reject the same biased information vary—based on their expectations of neutrality for public media, and on expectations derived from political ideology for private media. Our study suggests that the basis of people’s motivated reasoning differs when they evaluate content from public and private media.
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