Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lying Really Works: They Misreported, People Mis-decided

Just a quick note about something that seems to have passed under the radar so far: Fox News makes people vote right wing.

A study was published some time ago which examined the effects of the introductions of Fox News into a media market on voting patterns in that market. The study's authors concluded, initially, that there was no significant effect. Now, they've rerun the data, and determined that
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.
Wow. Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution noted the discrepancy between this year's and last year's version, and wondered aloud whether there was some mistake, or if the authors were more sure of themselves this year; in comments, one of the authors chimed in and confirmed that the researchers had done something involving a principle called "heteroskedasticity" and were now confident that Fox News had a statistically significant effect.

If I had time, I'd go dig up some link to that study showing that Fox News viewers were substantially more likely to be misinformed about basic facts of current events than were NPR listeners. I have to run, though, so I leave it as an exercise for the reader - if, that is, AIS has any readers who still wonder whether Roger Ailes' and Rupert Murdoch's network plays it straight.

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