Regulators and legislators have recently adopted new governance reforms in an attempt to encourage more normative behavior by those in charge of organizations. It should not be surprising, therefore, that the image of the CEO projected by the media has become increasingly salient to decision makers. Still, the impact of CEO image on stakeholders' perceptions and subsequent behavior has received little attention by accounting researchers. In response to this void, we examine the relationship between two important environmental cues: CEO's image as presented in the media and earnings consistency. Our interest is the degree to which these variables influence auditors' perception of the ethics of corporate management, as well as their assessments of the risk of fraudulent financial statements. We document that auditor perceptions are influenced by positive media cues as well as negative cues. These results are inconsistent with auditors exercising professional skepticism which implies no reliance on positive cues, especially "managed media cues". These results suggest that auditors, similar to others, are not immune to positive media cues about the CEO. This study contributes to the research literature examining factors that affect the perceived reliability of financial information by considering the effect of non-financial information-CEO image.
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