Fox News Convinced Its Viewers to Avoid Vaccination

So it would appear (boldface mine):

COVID-19 vaccines have reduced infections and hospitalizations across the globe, yet resistance to vaccination remains strong. This paper investigates the role of cable television news in vaccine hesitancy and associated local vaccination rates in the United States. We find that, in the earlier 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. That, in turn, indicates that more differentiated characteristics, like the networks’ messaging or tendency for controversy, matter and that the effect of Fox News on COVID-19 vaccine uptake is not due to the general consumption of cable news. 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.

Here’s the key figure:

Screen Shot 2022-10-08 at 10.51.35 AM

The data from January 2021 to April 2021 show that it didn’t have to be like this: Fox News could have avoided going all in on vaccination denialism–and they did for a while. Then they stopped, and now the Fox News watching areas have more dead people.

Helluva business model.

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3 Responses to Fox News Convinced Its Viewers to Avoid Vaccination

  1. Greg Lanman says:

    I personally do not begrudge citizens in Red States, who decided not to take any direct action necessary to prevent or control COVID 19 infections. Their decisions directly resulted in a large number of preventable deaths. Red States citizens are famous for routinely voting against their own best interests. Why during a pandemic that killed in excess of 1.5M Americans, would Red States be any different, in deciding to take no action, that would ensure their preservation or the preservation of their family or their community.

    • John says:

      I suspect that the Red-State citizens who oppose the necessary action aren’t the primary citizens dying in their states. They might be minorities instead.

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