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Watchdog or Lapdog? Media and the U.S. Government

  • Qian, Nancy
  • Yangagizawa, David

Abstract This paper investigates the extent to which strategic objectives of the U.S. government influenced news coverage during the Cold War. We establish two relationships: 1) strategic objectives of the U.S. government cause the State Department to under-report human rights violations of strategic allies; and 2) these objectives reduce news coverage of human rights abuses for strategic allies in six U.S. national newspapers. To establish causality, we exploit plausibly exogenous variation in a country's strategic value to the U.S. from the interaction of its political alliance to the U.S. and membership on the United Nations Security Council. In addition to the main results, we are able to provide qualitative evidence and indirect quantitative evidence to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the reduced form effects.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7684.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7684
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  1. Djankov, Simeon & McLeish, Caralee & Nenova, Tatiana & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Who owns the media?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2620, The World Bank.
  2. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2009. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1057-1094, August.
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  7. Dreher, Axel & Sturm, Jan-Egbert & Vreeland, James Raymond, 2009. "Development aid and international politics: Does membership on the UN Security Council influence World Bank decisions?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-18, January.
  8. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2006. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," NBER Working Papers 12169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2010. "Media and Political Persuasion: Evidence from Russia," Working Papers w0149, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  10. Prat, Andrea & Strömberg, David, 2005. "Commercial Television and Voter Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 4989, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. 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.
  13. Brian Knight, 2005. "Estimating the Value of Proposal Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1639-1652, December.
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  15. Khemani, Stuti, 2004. "Political cycles in a developing economy: effect of elections in the Indian States," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 125-154, February.
  16. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221, February.
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