The Consequences of Broader Media Choice: Evidence from the Expansion of Fox News

24 Pages Posted: 30 May 2012 Last revised: 11 Dec 2013

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Jonathan McDonald Ladd

Georgetown University - Department of Government

Date Written: December 11, 2013

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Daniel J. and Ladd, Jonathan McDonald, The Consequences of Broader Media Choice: Evidence from the Expansion of Fox News (December 11, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2070596 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2070596

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danhopkins.org

Jonathan McDonald Ladd

Georgetown University - Department of Government ( email )

ICC, Suite 681
Washington, DC 20057-1034
United States
202-687-7112 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://government.georgetown.edu/jml89

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