ABSTRACT

Misinformation During a Pandemic   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Abstract: "We study the effects of news coverage of the novel coronavirus by the two most widely-viewed cable news shows in the United States -- 'Hannity' and 'Tucker Carlson Tonight', both on Fox News -- on viewers' behavior and downstream health outcomes. Carlson warned viewers about the threat posed by the coronavirus from early February, while Hannity originally dismissed the risks associated with the virus before gradually adjusting his position starting late February. We first validate these differences in content with independent coding of show transcripts. In line with the differences in content, we present novel survey evidence that Hannity's viewers changed behavior in response to the virus later than other Fox News viewers, while Carlson's viewers changed behavior earlier. We then turn to the effects on the pandemic itself, examining health outcomes across counties. [...] While our findings cannot yet speak to long-term effects, they indicate that provision of misinformation in the early stages of a pandemic can have important consequences for how a disease ultimately affects the population."

Report Number:
Working Paper No. 2020-44
Author:
Publisher:
Date:
2020-04-19
Series:
Copyright:
Becker Friedman Institute
Retrieved From:
Becker Friedman Institute: https://bfi.uchicago.edu/
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
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