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A study of data from the Stanford Cable News Analyzer, which contains data on political actors appearing on cable news shows between 2010 and 2021 finds that, when classifying the partisan leanings of actors based on campaign donation behavior, the mean ideology of political actors on a channel is highly dynamic even on within-day timescales. Cable news bias on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox trended together until 2016: When Fox News became more conservative, so did MSNBC and CNN. After 2016, the channels polarized, with MSNBC and CNN shifting strongly to the left, while Fox continued trending to the right.

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Perspectives

According to some theorists, a functioning democracy depends on the assumption that voters receive accurate, factually neutral information about politics. While the news was relatively objective throughout most of the 20th century, many major outlets in the post-broadcast era promote a partisan agenda. This partisan bias has been linked to changes to both voter and elite attitudes and behavior. This paper offers evidence of its polarization over time.

Yphtach Lelkes
University of Pennsylvania

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This page is a summary of: Measuring dynamic media bias, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2202197119.
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