Conservative News Media and Criminal Justice: Evidence from Exposure to Fox News Channel

32 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2020

See all articles by Elliott Ash

Elliott Ash

ETH Zürich

Michael Poyker

University of Nottingham, School of Economics

Date Written: April 8, 2019

Abstract

Exposure to conservative news causes judges to impose harsher criminal sentences. Our evidence comes from an instrumental variables analysis, where randomness in television channel positioning across localities induces exogenous variation in exposure to Fox News Channel. These treatment data on news viewership are taken to outcomes data on almost 7 million criminal sentencing decisions in the United States for the years 2005–2017. Higher Fox News viewership increases incarceration length, and the effect is stronger for black defendants and for drug-related crimes. The effect is observed for elected, and not appointed, judges, consistent with voter attitudes as a potential mechanism. The effect becomes weaker as judges get closer to election, suggesting a diminishing marginal effect for judges who are already politically engaged.

Keywords: Partisan Media, Judge Elections, Incarceration, Racial Bias

JEL Classification: D72, H76, K41, L82

Suggested Citation

Ash, Elliott and Poyker, Mikhail, Conservative News Media and Criminal Justice: Evidence from Exposure to Fox News Channel (April 8, 2019). Columbia Business School Research Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3381827 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3381827

Elliott Ash

ETH Zürich ( email )

Rämistrasse 101
ZUE F7
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Mikhail Poyker (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham, School of Economics ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

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