According to a newly released study Fox News coverage may have aided President Bush in 2000. The study conducted by economists Stefano DellaVigna of UC Berkeley and Ethan Kaplan of Stockholm University concludes that the presence of Fox News may have convinced from 3 to 8 percent of its non-Republican viewers to vote Republican.
That they determine is a sizable number in what was a very close election.
For example the researchers estimate that the Fox News effect may have produced as many as 10,000 votes for Bush in Florida. Bush won the state by fewer than 600 votes and it was that victory that Bush his Electoral College victory and the presidency.
In the study which covered 9,256 cities and towns from 1996-2000 DellaVigna and Kaplan found that “towns with Fox News have a 0.4 to0.7 percentage point higher Republican vote share in the 2000 Presidential elections, compared to the 1996 elections.” They also concluded that while Fox News doesn’t cover Senate elections they do affect vote share in those races as well. Even more remarkable is the fact that Fox News was available in just 35% of households during this time.
Despite the fact that Fox was only launched in 1996 it has now become the top rated cable network and led the authors to conclude that ” Fox News permanently altered voting patterns in the United States.” If you are a conservative this is good news indeed.
Liberals will likely try and use this information to further their claim that Fox News is nothing but a shill for the Republican Party and President Bush. Yet as the study cautions it is not to be taken as evidence that Fox News slants its coverage to favor Republicans. As many viewers to Fox know with the O’Reilly Factor and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren they often overcompensate in trying to be fair and balanced.
The bottom line is that the country is far more conservative than the press wants us to believe and they haven’t been able to come to grips with Fox overtaking their beloved CNN and leaving the other major (liberal) networks in the dust as well.
Don Irvine is the chairman of Accuracy in Media, AIA’s parent organization.