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Partisan bias in economic news: Evidence on the agenda-setting behavior of U.S. newspapers

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Author Info

  • Larcinese, Valentino
  • Puglisi, Riccardo
  • Snyder Jr., James M.

Abstract

We study the agenda-setting political behavior of a large sample of U.S. newspapers during the 1996-2005 period. Our purpose is to examine the intensity of coverage of economic issues as a function of the underlying economic conditions and the political affiliation of the incumbent president, focusing on unemployment, inflation, the federal budget and the trade deficit. We investigate whether there is any significant correlation between the endorsement policy of newspapers, and the differential coverage of bad/good economic news as a function of the president's political affiliation. We find evidence that newspapers with pro-Democratic endorsement pattern systematically give more coverage to high unemployment when the incumbent president is a Republican than when the president is Democratic, compared to newspapers with pro-Republican endorsement pattern. This result is robust to controlling for the partisanship of readers. We find similar but less robust results for the trade deficit. We also find some evidence that newspapers cater to the partisan tastes of readers in the coverage of the budget deficit. We find no evidence of a partisan bias - or at least of a bias that is correlated with the endorsement or reader partisanship - for stories on inflation.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 9-10 (October)
Pages: 1178-1189

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:9-10:p:1178-1189

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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Keywords: News Mass media Information Media bias;

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  1. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2005. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 07, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  2. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234, 08.
  3. Alan Gerber & Dean Karlan & Daniel Bergan, 2006. "Does the media matter? A field experiment measuring the effect of newspapers on voting behavior and political opinions," Natural Field Experiments 00252, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Bernhardt, Dan & Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias, 2008. "Political polarization and the electoral effects of media bias," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1092-1104, June.
  5. Riccardo Puglisi, 2006. "Being The New York Times: Thepolitical Behaviour Of A Newspaper," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 20, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  6. Fair, Ray C, 1978. "The Effect of Economic Events on Votes for President," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 159-73, May.
  7. Valentino Larcinese, 2003. "The Instrumental Voter Goes to the News-Agent: Demand for Information, Election Closeness, and the Media," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 579.03, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  8. Jeffrey Milyo & Tim Groseclose, 2005. "A Measure of Media Bias," Working Papers 0501, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 25 Aug 2005.
  9. Matthew Gentzkow & Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2004. "The Rise of the Fourth Estate: How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered," NBER Working Papers 10791, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Simon P. Anderson & John McLaren, 2012. "Media Mergers And Media Bias With Rational Consumers," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 831-859, 08.
  11. David Str–mberg, 2004. "Mass Media Competition, Political Competition, and Public Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 265-284, 01.
  12. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 35-71, 01.
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