How Visual and Textual Information Varied on Cable News Networks During the Covid-19 Pandemic
As the Covid-19 pandemic progressed, the public increasingly relied on news outlets to provide up-to-date health information. Often times this information was provided by Dr. Anthony Fauci during the course of on-air interviews. Consequently, when Dr. Fauci appeared less and less, many became concerned that the public was not receiving the full picture, especially since Dr. Fauci was often not afraid to voice concerns over how the pandemic was being handled at the federal, state and local level. Using text and image data from 6,587 CNN, Fox News and MSNBC programs, this paper determines the extent to which Dr. Fauci appeared on air and whether the rate of his appearances (or lack thereof) diminished over time. We then look at whether Dr. Fauci’s appearances (or lack thereof) are conditioned on what is being said during broadcasts. Not only do we find that Dr. Fauci appeared significantly less on Fox News, but this discrepancy increases as the pandemic progresses and when public health information is discussed. Regardless of whether this constitutes “misinformation” or “framing,” our study speaks volumes to two important research areas and broader concerns over the balance of Covid-19 coverage, especially when the public needed it the most.
Copyright (c) 2022 Bryce Dietrich, Hyein Ko
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