David Broockman (Program on Political Economy Seminar)


Thursday, November 19, 2020, 4:30pm to 5:45pm


Zoom - see below

Zoom links for Political Economy Seminar are distributed via the seminar's mailing list. You can sign up for the list using this link: https://lists.iq.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/ppe_list

All interested faculty and students are invited to attend.

Today's presenter:

David Broockman (UC Berkeley), "The Consequences of Partisan Media Slant: Preliminary Results from A Field Experiment with Fox News Viewers"


An influential research tradition argues that the US media’s effects on voter preferences either are minimized by selective exposure or operate through subtle mechanisms, such as changing the importance voters place on issues (“priming”) or drawing attention to different aspects of the same events (“framing”). Using behavioral data from a media company on household-level television viewership, we recruited heavy consumers of Fox News to a field experiment in late 2020. We first document that heavy Fox News viewers are homogeneously conservative Republicans. During September 2020, we incentivized a randomized treatment group to instead watch CNN. During this month, CNN extensively covered COVID-19’s dangers and voting by mail (VBM) as safe; Fox News focused on racial unrest and the risks of fraud from VBM. At the end of the incentivized period, we find that changing the slant of participants’ media consumption had profound effects on: 1) factual beliefs. The treatment group was less likely to harbor misperceptions about COVID-19, VBM, and protests and policing, and more informed about Trump and Biden’s positions on them. 2) personal views and policy preferences. 3) issue importance. The treatment group saw COVID-19 as more important and efforts to quell protests as less important. 4) overall political views. The treatment group was much less approving of Donald Trump and Republicans generally. 5) attitudes towards the media. The treatment group evaluated Fox News more negatively and was more likely to state that it conceals negative information about Trump. There were no changes in attitudes towards CNN. Our results suggest that partisan media’s viewers are not fully aware of its bias, and that it changes even strong partisans’ basic factual beliefs, issue preferences, and evaluations of elected officials. An endline survey will launch in late November, and we will soon receive behavioral data on post-experiment media consumption.

Co-sponsored by FAS and IQSS, the Program on Political Economy (PE) supports research-related activities that integrate the study of economics and politics, whether by studying economic behavior in the political process or political behavior in the marketplace. In general, positive political economy is concerned with showing how observed differences among institutions affect political and economic outcomes in various social, economic, and political systems and how the institutions themselves change and develop in response to individual and collective beliefs, preferences, and strategies.

broockman_kalla_partisan_media.pdf38 KB