The Consequences of Broader Media Choice: Evidence from the Expansion of Fox News
24 Pages Posted: 30 May 2012 Last revised: 11 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 11, 2013
In recent decades, the diversity of Americans' news choices has expanded substantially. This paper examines whether access to an ideologically distinctive news source --- the Fox News cable channel --- influences vote intentions. It focuses on whether any such effect is concentrated among those likely to agree with Fox's viewpoint. To test these possibilities with individual-level data, we identify local Fox News availability for 22,595 respondents to the 2000 National Annenberg Election Survey. For the population overall, we find a pro-Republican average treatment effect that is statistically indistinguishable from zero. Yet, when separating respondents by party, we find a sizable effect of Fox access only on the vote intentions of Republicans and pure independents, a result that is bolstered by placebo tests. Contrary to fears about pervasive media influence, access to an ideologically distinctive media source reinforces the loyalties of co-partisans and possibly persuades independents without influencing out-partisans.
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