Pakistani and U.S. Press Content on Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination Frame Her Dynasty, Destiny, Death and their Secrets

Tania Cantrell Rosas Moreno, Ingrid Bachmann


Few studies have investigated how the press covers political leader assassinations, and its societal, cultural and political connotations, particularly when that leader is female. Using framing theory, this textual analysis investigated how more than 200 stories from three Pakistani English dailies portrayed the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and compared it to a similar sample of U.S. news reports. Pakistani press used three prevalent latent frames—the devastating effects of her death, the fulfillment of a prophetic demise, and efforts to keep the assassination’s details under wraps. Also, it employed two absent latent frames—obscured gender and religion, and candidate without an election—to organize the information. In contrast, the U.S. coverage relied on two prevalent latent frames—the secret diplomacy behind Bhutto’s return to Pakistan and the individual and national danger surrounding her life. The (in)ability of the presses to make sense of the assassination is discussed.


Framing theory, framing typology, interpretative textual analysis, Benazir Bhutto, prevalent latent news frame, absent/trump latent news frame

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