Fire Alarm Fatigue: How Politicians Evade Accountability

45 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2021

See all articles by Robert Gulotty

Robert Gulotty

University of Chicago

Zhaotian Luo

University of Chicago, Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 30, 2021

Abstract

Independent and objective oversight bodies, congressional committees and the news media, are widely expected to help hold politicians accountable. We develop a model in which an informed oversight body may warn citizens about misconduct by an incumbent. Matching conventional logic about the benefits of caution, high evidentiary standards are necessary for warnings to be persuasive. However, the straightforward connection between caution and efficacy breaks down if we allow for uncertainty about the quality of oversight. With even a small chance of "fake news", caution can backfire, as incumbents strategically manipulate the reputation of the oversight body to destroy effective oversight.

Suggested Citation

Gulotty, Robert and Luo, Zhaotian, Fire Alarm Fatigue: How Politicians Evade Accountability (March 30, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3815391 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3815391

Robert Gulotty

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Zhaotian Luo (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Department of Political Science ( email )

5825 S University Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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