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Joshua D. Clinton and Ted Enamorado. 2014. “The National News Media’s Effect on Congress: How Fox News Affected Elites in Congress.Journal of Development Economics, 120, Pp. 128-143.

Despite the prominence of the national news media, it is unclear whether elected officials are affected by the national news media in policy-consequential ways because of the difficulty of disentangling the influence of the media on Congress from Congress’s influence on the media. We use a unique opportunity to determine whether position-taking behavior in Congress and the likelihood of reelection is affected by the national news media. Using the fact that the Fox News Channel spread gradually across the United States after being launched in October of 1996 in ways unrelated to the ideology of congressional districts and the incumbent representatives, we show that representatives become less supportive of President Clinton in districts where Fox News begins broadcasting than similar representatives in similar districts where Fox News was not broadcast. Moreover, the effects took a few years to be realized, and the entry of Fox News in a district did not appear to affect which representatives were reelected. Consistent with theories emphasizing the anticipatory actions taken by elected officials to maximize their electoral security in the face of changing electoral conditions, our results suggest that the national media may slightly affect the prospects for policy change by altering representatives’ expectations and the positions that they take.

Rex Deng

Written by Rex Deng

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