Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization

Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization

By
Gregory J. Martin, Ali Yurukoglu
American Economic Review. September
2017, Vol. 107, Issue 9, Pages 2565-99

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 use the model to assess the growth over time of Fox News influence, to quantitatively assess media-driven polarization, and to simulate alternative ideological slanting of news channels.