What Drives Demand for Media Slant?
53 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017 Last revised: 18 Jul 2018
Date Written: July 5, 2018
Three major theories of demand for like-minded political news are that such news: 1) provides optimal instrumental value for decisions; 2) is perceived as more trustworthy; and 3) is psychologically more appealing. We assess these theories by estimating outlet-level slant, and the within-outlet slant-demand relationship, for news on a relatively objective topic with little instrumental value for decisions---"horse race'' news on poll results throughout the 2012 and 2016 US presidential campaigns from six major online outlets. We complement this analysis with micro-level data from incentivized surveys on news on the winners of presidential campaign debates. We obtain some results that best support the psychology theory, some results best supporting the trust theory, and some that can support either or both. Results mostly, but not entirely, fail to support the instrumental value theory.
Keywords: Media Bias, Media Slant, Horse Race News, Presidential Debate News, Confirmation Bias, Cognitive Dissonance, Polarization
JEL Classification: D72, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation