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This article addresses a gap in the literature connecting the empirical observation of a democratic peace to a theoretical mechanism based on domestic audience costs. We argue that the link between these literatures lies in the way leaders reach the ultimate source of audience costs: the public. The audience cost argument implicitly requires a free press because, without it, the public has no reliable means of obtaining information about the success or failure of a leader's foreign policy. Hence, leaders can credibly commit through audience costs only when the media is an effective and independent actor. The implication is that while leaders might gain flexibility at home by controlling the media, they do so at the cost of their capacity to persuade foreign leaders that their 'hands are tied.'


Potter, Philip B. K., and Matthew A. Baum. "Democratic Peace, Domestic Audience Costs, and Political Communication." Political Communication 27.4 (October-December 2010): 453-470.