Conservative News Media and Criminal Justice: Evidence from Exposure to Fox News Channel
32 Pages Posted: 3 May 2019
Date Written: April 8, 2019
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: Suggested Citation