While it has presented itself as “balanced” over the years, there’s little doubt that Fox News has consistently supported Republican candidates and positions even when that required taking an editorial position against basic facts. On some level, this has worked, as surveys have indicated Fox viewers are more likely to get those same facts wrong. But is it working in terms of the larger goal of supporting Republican causes?
According to a new study, the answer is yes. Two researchers, Gregory Martin and Ali Yurukoglu, have taken advantage of huge amounts of public data, some inadvertent experiments, and a lot of previous research to look into the influence of Fox News on people’s votes. They conclude that, in recent elections, the mere availability of Fox could shift nationwide votes by over a percentage point.
The paper itself is rather complicated and tackles a lot of related issues regarding the influence of news media on voting. Martin and Yurukoglu are quite fond of mathematical analysis; it’s rare for them to go more than a paragraph without regressing something (often several somethings). As a result, a lot of the paper reads like the following: “If voters treat signals from slanted outlets as true draws on the state of the world, and further, if they do not account for the correlation between repeated signals from the same source as in the model of DeMarzo, Vayanos, and Zwiebel, then equation 8 arises as the inverse-variance-weighted average of signals observed by viewer i in period t.”