The Persuasive Effect of Fox News: Non-Compliance with Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hi all, wanted to share our new working paper with @Szymon_Sacher_Columbia_GSB and colleagues from Chicago Booth — we measure the persuasive effect of Fox News on non-compliance with social distancing recommendations. We leverage a quasi-random assignment of news channels’ positions in local cable systems across the US which induces incremental viewership of Fox News and other news channels. We then measure the effect of this incremental viewership on stay-at-home propensities across zip codes (hat tip to SafeGraph for the Social Distancing Metrics data). While we cannot pin down the mechanism behind the effect (e.g. whether it is caused by current or long-term messaging), our results show that at least some of the partisan differences in COVID-19 response are driven by consumption of different news sources.

Paper link: