Special Interests and the Media: Theory and an Application to Climate Change
48 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2014 Last revised: 4 Apr 2015
Date Written: January 2014
A journalist reports to a voter on an unknown, policy-relevant state. Competing special interests can make claims that contradict the facts but seem credible to the voter. A reputational incentive to avoid taking sides leads the journalist to report special interests’ claims to the voter. In equilibrium, the voter can remain uninformed even when the journalist is perfectly informed. Communication is improved if the journalist discloses her partisan leanings. The model provides an account of persistent public ignorance on climate change that is consistent with narrative and quantitative evidence.
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