Journal article

The safest time to fly: pandemic response in the era of Fox News

Maxim Ananyev, Michael Poyker, Yuan Tian

Journal of Population Economics | SPRINGER | Published : 2021


We document a causal effect of the conservative Fox News Channel in the USA on physical distancing during COVID-19 pandemic. We measure county-level mobility covering all US states and District of Columbia produced by GPS pings to 15-17 million smartphones and zip-code-level mobility using Facebook location data. Using the historical position of Fox News Channel in the cable lineup as the source of exogenous variation, we show that increased exposure to Fox News led to a smaller reduction in distance traveled and a smaller increase in the probability of staying home after the national emergency declaration in the USA. Our results show that slanted media can have a harmful effect on containme..

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Funding Acknowledgements

We thank UNACAST for generously sharing mobility data and Facebook's Data for Good initiative for sharing Facebook users' mobility data. We are grateful to Elliott Ash, Sergei Guriev, Vasily Korovkin, Alexey Makarin, and Charles Wyplosz for their thoughtful comments. The paper benefited substantially from suggestions by the editor, Klaus F. Zimmermann, and four anonymous referees. The substantially revised version of the GLO paper contains extensive materials to which we refer in this published paper as AnDZanyev et al. (2021). All errors are ours. Correspondence at: Sir Clive Granger Building B33, School of Economics, University of Nottingham, University Park, NG7 2RD, Nottingham, UK. Poyker is grateful for financial support from the Institute for New Economic Thinking.