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Mediated Terrorism: US News and Al-Qaeda Attacks

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  • Michael Jetter

Abstract

This paper presents an empirical test for the hypothesis that US news coverage of al-Qaeda causes al-Qaeda attacks. To isolate causality, disaster deaths worldwide provide an instrumental variable crowding out al-Qaeda coverage. Studying daily al-Qaeda coverage by CNN, NBC, CBS, and Fox News, as well as the NYT and the WaPo, results consistently produce a positive and statistically significant effect. At its mean, al-Qaeda coverage is suggested to cause 1.2-2.3 al-Qaeda attacks (equivalent to 5.8-10.9 deaths) in the upcoming week. Results are remarkably consistent across media outlets and it appears unlikely that attacks are simply delayed when coverage is low.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Jetter, 2017. "Mediated Terrorism: US News and Al-Qaeda Attacks," CESifo Working Paper Series 6804, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6804
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp6804.pdf
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    al-Qaeda; media attention; media effects; terrorism; 9; 11;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F52 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - National Security; Economic Nationalism
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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