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Matthew Yglesias

What If Fox News Viewers Watched CNN Instead?

Previous studies have shown that partisan media affect how people vote. A new study shows they also affect how people think.

Liberals should be watching.

Liberals should be watching.

Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg


The establishment of Fox News in the late 1990s forever changed both media and politics in America, transforming the formerly staid world of television news into the series of political shoutfests we know and love-hate today. More than a quarter-century after its founding, however, the question persists: Does watching Fox News actually change voters’ minds?

It’s worth noting that, in a famous study published 15 years ago, economists showed that exposure to Fox could have a measurable impact on elections. Comparing markets that had received Fox to those where it was not yet available, the study concluded that the presence of Fox News was good for a Republican gain of 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points between the 1996 and 2000 elections. It was a decidedly modest effect — but large enough to sway that super-close election.