Cable News and COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake

Pinna, M., Picard, L. & Goessmann, C. Cable news and COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Sci Rep 12, 16804 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-20350-0

7 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2021 Last revised: 9 Dec 2022

See all articles by Matteo Pinna

Matteo Pinna

ETH Zürich

Léo Picard

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics

Christoph Goessmann

ETH Zürich

Date Written: November 30, 2021

Abstract

COVID-19 vaccines have reduced infections and hospitalizations across the globe, yet resistance to vaccination remains strong. This paper investigates the role of cable television news in vaccine hesitancy and associated local vaccination rates in the United States. We find that, in the earlier stages of the vaccine roll-out (starting May 2021), higher local viewership of Fox News Channel has been associated with lower local vaccination rates. We can verify that this association is causal using exogenous geographical variation in the channel lineup. The effect is driven by younger individuals (under 65 years of age), for whom COVID-19 has a low mortality risk. Consistent with changes in beliefs about the effectiveness of the vaccine as a mechanism, we find that Fox News increased reported vaccine hesitancy in local survey responses. We can rule out that the effect is due to differences in partisanship, to local health policies, or to local COVID-19 infections or death rates. The other two major television networks, CNN and MSNBC, have no effect. That, in turn, indicates that more differentiated characteristics, like the networks’ messaging or tendency for controversy, matter and that the effect of Fox News on COVID-19 vaccine uptake is not due to the general consumption of cable news. We also show that there is no historical effect of Fox News on flu vaccination rates, suggesting that the effect is COVID-19-specific and not driven by general skepticism toward vaccines.

Note: Funding: The project is funded internally at ETH Zurich, and there are no external funders to declare.

Declaration of Interests: We have no competing interests to declare.

Suggested Citation

Pinna, Matteo and Picard, Léo and Goessmann, Christoph, Cable News and COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake (November 30, 2021). Pinna, M., Picard, L. & Goessmann, C. Cable news and COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Sci Rep 12, 16804 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-20350-0, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3890340 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3890340

Matteo Pinna (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zurichbergstrasse 18
Zürich, 8032
Switzerland

Léo Picard

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Petersplatz 1
Basel, 4001
Switzerland

Christoph Goessmann

ETH Zürich ( email )

IFW E46
Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://goessmann.io

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