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.
Here is the link and paper.