A new study finds that watching Fox News has a causal relationship with lower vaccination rates:
COVID-19 vaccines have already reduced infections and hospitalizations across the globe, yet resistance to vaccination remains strong. This paper investigates the role of cable television news in vaccine skepticism and associated local vaccination rates in the United States. We find that, in the later stages of the vaccine roll-out (starting May 2021), higher local viewership of Fox News Channel has been associated with lower local vaccination rates. We can verify that this association is causal using exogenous geographical variation in the channel lineup. The effect is driven by younger individuals (under 65 years of age), for whom COVID-19 has a low mortality risk. Consistent with changes in beliefs about the effectiveness of the vaccine as a mechanism, we find that Fox News increased reported vaccine hesitancy in local survey responses. We can rule out that the effect is due to differences in partisanship, to local health policies, or to local COVID-19 infections or death rates. The other two major television networks, CNN and MSNBC, have no effect, indicating that messaging matters and that the observed effect on vaccinations is not due the consumption of cable news in general. We also show that there is no historical effect of Fox News on flu vaccination rates, suggesting that the effect is COVID-19-specific and not driven by general skepticism toward vaccines.
Remember how MSNBC spent years of futility trying to make America’s most murderous white nationalist broadcaster a thing? True story!
Meanwhile, America’s Beloved COVID Governor reveals that the agenda here isn’t exactly subtle:
It’s interesting to contrast the month of fawning coverage DeSantis received back when Florida’s results were merely mediocre rather than dismal with the mainstream political press’s nearly universal assumption that Joe Biden should have been able to execute an entirely frictionless mass evacuation in a hostile failed state (while the instantaneous failed state does not reflect at all badly on the people who have been advocating a nation-building war in Afghanistan for 20 years.)