References (30)


Citations (12)



Is Newspaper Coverage of Economic Events Politically Biased?

John R. Lott Jr.

Crime Prevention Research Center

Kevin A. Hassett

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

October 19, 2004

Accusations of political bias in the media are often made by members of both political parties, yet there have been few systematic studies of such bias to date. This paper develops an econometric technique to test for political bias in news reports that controls for the underlying character of the news reported. Our results suggest that American newspapers tend to give more positive news coverage to the same economic news when Democrats are in the Presidency than for Republicans. When all types of news are pooled into a single analysis, our results are highly significant. However, the results vary greatly depending upon which economic numbers are being reported. When GDP growth is reported, Republicans received between 16 and 24 percentage point fewer positive stories for the same economic numbers than Democrats. For durable goods for all newspapers, Republicans received between 15 and 25 percentage points fewer positive news stories than Democrats. For unemployment, the difference was between zero and 21 percentage points. Retail sales showed no difference. Among the Associated Press and the top 10 papers, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, and New York Times tend to be the least likely to report positive news during Republican administrations, while the Houston Chronicle slightly favors Republicans. Only one newspaper treated one Republican administration significantly more positively than the Clinton administration: the Los Angeles Times' headlines were most favorable to the Reagan administration, but it still favored Clinton over either Bush administration. We also find that the media coverage affects people's perceptions of the economy. Contrary to the typical impression that bad news sells, we find that good economic news generates more news coverage and that it is usually covered more prominently. We also present some evidence that media treats parties differently when they control both the presidency and the congress.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 57

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: September 13, 2004 ; Last revised: August 19, 2008

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R. and Hassett, Kevin A., Is Newspaper Coverage of Economic Events Politically Biased? (October 19, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=588453 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.588453

Contact Information

John R. Lott Jr. (Contact Author)
Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )
United States
Kevin A. Hassett
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ( email )
1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202.862.7157 (Phone)
202.862.7177 (Fax)
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 78,217
Downloads: 4,912
Download Rank: 1,035
References:  30
Citations:  12