Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Examining Fox News's Political Influence

Joshua David Clinton, Vanderbilt University Department of Political Science, and Ted Enamorado have published The Fox News Factor: How the Spread of Fox News Affects Position Taking in Congress. Here is the abstract.

Scholars have argued that the media can affect voter opinions and turnout, but it is unclear whether elected officials might also be affected in policy consequential ways. We explore whether representatives to the US House take more conservative positions once Fox News begins broadcasting in their congressional district and whether more conservative representatives are more likely to be elected. We use the fact that the Fox News Channel was launched in October 1996 and it gradually spread across congressional districts in the United States in a manner that was unrelated to the ideology of the district and the incumbent representative to show that there is a modest effect on elected officials' positions. Comparing the change in behavior of representatives where Fox News does and does not emerge in otherwise similar districts reveals that members from districts where Fox News emerges become slightly more conservative and the effect is largest among Democrats. There is no evidence that Fox News affected which representatives were re-elected or replaced. As a result, the emergence of new media may have a slight effect on the prospects for policy change by affecting representatives' expectations and causing them to slightly adjust the positions that they take.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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