Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization
We measure the persuasive effects of slanted news and tastes for like-minded news, exploiting cable channel positions as exogenous shifters of cable news viewership. Channel positions do not correlate with demographics that predict viewership and voting, nor with local satellite viewership. We estimate that Fox News increases Republican vote shares by 0.3 points among viewers induced into watching 2.5 additional minutes per week by variation in position. We then estimate a model of voters who select into watching slanted news, and whose ideologies evolve as a result. We quantitatively assess media-driven polarization, and simulate alternative ideological slanting of news channels.
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This paper was revised on June 1, 2016
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20798
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