Partisan Bias in Economic News: Evidence on the Agenda-Setting Behavior of U.S. Newspapers

43 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2007 Last revised: 23 Jul 2010

See all articles by Valentino Larcinese

Valentino Larcinese

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Riccardo Puglisi

University of Pavia; University of Milan - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano (LdA)

James M. Snyder

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science & Department of Economics

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Date Written: September 2007

Abstract

We study the agenda-setting political behavior of a large sample of U.S. newspapers during the last decade, and the behavior of smaller samples for longer time periods. Our purpose is to examine the intensity of coverage of economic issues as a function of the underlying economic conditions and the political affiliation of the incumbent president, focusing on unemployment, inflation, the federal budget and the trade deficit. We investigate whether there is any significant correlation between the endorsement policy of newspapers, and the differential coverage of bad/good economic news as a function of the president's political affiliation. We find evidence that newspapers with pro-Democratic endorsement pattern systematically give more coverage to high unemployment when the incumbent president is a Republican than when the president is Democratic, compared to newspapers with pro-Republican endorsement pattern. This result is not driven by the partisanship of readers. There is on the contrary no evidence of a partisan bias -- or at least of a bias that is correlated with the endorsement policy -- for stories on inflation, budget deficit or trade deficit.

Suggested Citation

Larcinese, Valentino and Puglisi, Riccardo and Snyder, James M., Partisan Bias in Economic News: Evidence on the Agenda-Setting Behavior of U.S. Newspapers (September 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13378. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1012832

Valentino Larcinese (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Riccardo Puglisi

University of Pavia ( email )

Corso Strada Nuova, 65
27100 Pavia, 27100
Italy

University of Milan - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano (LdA) ( email )

Via P. Amedeo 34
Milano, Mi 20122
Italy

James M. Snyder

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science & Department of Economics ( email )

E53-457
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-253-2669 (Phone)

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