The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 06.07.2005, 12:15 - 13:30

   

Presentation by 

Stefano DellaVigna (University of California, Berkeley)
   

Abstract:

Does the media affect voting? We address this question by looking at the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting. Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic. Using a data set of voting data for 8,634 towns, we investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. We find no significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. We can rule out an effect of Fox News larger than 0.5 percentage points. The results are robust to town-level controls, state and county fixed effects, and alternative specifications. We also find no significant effect of Fox News on voter turnout. Our results imply that Fox News convinced between 0 and 2.1 percent of its viewers to vote Republican. The evidence is consistent with the view that voters are sophisticated and filter out media bias. Alternatively, voters may display a form of confirmatory bias.

   
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