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News Coverage Disparities Between the 2002 Election and January 6th: A Quantitative Look
  • Ryan Boyer ,
  • William Scherer
Ryan Boyer
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William Scherer
University of Virginia, University of Virginia

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

We modeled the evening news, using LDA topic modeling, between 2020-11-09 and 2021-01-05, using the transcripts of primetime news programs from three of the major cable news networks (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News).We see no evidence that the right wing or left-wing partisan media directly incited the January 6th riot. However, FoxNews’s repeated claims of voter fraud, illegal vote counting, and general election conspiracy likely contributed to a political environment that allowed conspiracy, hysteria, and extremism to thrive. As the most watched cable news network in America in 2020 with roughly 20 times more hourly viewers than Newsmax, Fox News’ potential cultural impact is extremely large. People’s frame of reference for decision making is typically based in television news, especially for those over 35; therefore, clear differences in news stories presented will result in a very fragmented national perspective and a difficult political debate.