Finding Fauci: How Visual and Textual Information Varied on Cable News Networks During the COVID-19 Pandemic

34 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2021

See all articles by Bryce Dietrich

Bryce Dietrich

University of Iowa

Hyein Ko

University of Iowa, Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 15, 2021

Abstract

As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, the public increasingly relied on news outlets to provide up-to-date health information. Often times this information was provided by Dr. Anthony Fauci during the course of on-air interviews. Consequently, when Dr. Fauci appeared less and less, many became concerned that the public was not receiving the full picture, especially since Dr. Fauci was often not afraid to voice concerns over how the pandemic was being handled at the federal, state and local level. Using text and image data from 6,587 CNN, Fox News and MSNBC programs, this paper determines the extent to which Dr. Fauci appeared on air and whether the rate of his appearances (or lack thereof) diminished over time. We then look at whether Dr. Fauci’s appearances (or lack thereof) are conditioned on what is being said during broadcasts. Not only do we find that Dr. Fauci appeared significantly less on Fox News, but this discrepancy increases as the pandemic progresses and when public health information is discussed. Regardless of whether this constitutes “misinformation” or “framing,” our study speaks volumes to two important research areas and broader concerns over the balance of COVID-19 coverage, especially when the public needed it the most.

Keywords: COVID-19, Anthony fauci, facial recognition, cable news

Suggested Citation

Dietrich, Bryce and Ko, Hyein, Finding Fauci: How Visual and Textual Information Varied on Cable News Networks During the COVID-19 Pandemic (December 15, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3986482 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3986482

Bryce Dietrich (Contact Author)

University of Iowa ( email )

Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

Hyein Ko

University of Iowa, Department of Political Science ( email )

Iowa City, IA
United States

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