Trump vs. Fox News: How Elite Press Attacks Reshape the Partisan Media Landscape



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Individuals seeking partisan news face a variety of options in the current media landscape, yet research provides little evidence regarding the conditions under which they become more or less open to different co-partisan outlets. I argue that elite rhetoric plays an important role in this process and focus specifically on Donald Trump’s critiques of Fox News and promotion of far-right alternatives. I  first conduct a content analysis of Trump’s tweets from 2017-2020 and  find that he increasingly attacked Fox News, a trend that correlates with decreases in Fox’s daytime and primetime ratings. Two survey experiments further examine how partisans respond to this rhetoric. I  find Trump’s attacks significantly change partisan’s perceptions of Fox. Notably, Trump’s critiques of Fox and promotion of an extreme alternative undermine Republicans’ willingness to consume Fox vis-à-vis OANN. The results highlight the strength of individuals’ loyalty to party leader over co-partisan media and suggest elite attacks have fueled increasing partisan media competition.



Partisan Politics, Far-right, Twitter, POTUS 45, Donald Trump, Fox News