Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fair and Balanced = Republican Hacks

Fox News, which claimed the title "fair and balanced" has always been in the Republican camp, or more accurately, the Bush corner. Right-wingers argue that Fox is totally unbiased. Of course, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to quickly conclude the opposite.

Well, there's been a study by two UC Berkley students. The National Bureau of Economic Research took a look at Fox News to see whether they actually affected voting. Guess what? Fox is estimated to have convinced between 3 to 8 percent of their viewers in various markets to vote Republican.

Does media bias affect voting? We address this question by looking at the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting. Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, we investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. We find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gain 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News. The results are robust to town-level controls, district and county fixed effects, and alternative specifications. We also find a significant effect of Fox News on Senate vote share and on voter turnout. Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican. We interpret the results in light of a simple model of voter learning about media bias and about politician quality. The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, or a permanent effect for voters subject to non-rational persuasion.
Oh Rupert, it looks like these people were right after all.

Of course the right-wingers are all confused about the last line of the posted abstract. Some say they have no idea what it means. That figures.

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