DP7684 Watchdog or Lapdog? Media and the U.S. Government

Author(s): Nancy Qian, David Yangagizawa
Publication Date: February 2010
Keyword(s): Development, Media, Political Economy
JEL(s): P16
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=7684

Abstract This paper investigates the extent to which strategic objectives of the U.S. government influenced news coverage during the Cold War. We establish two relationships: 1) strategic objectives of the U.S. government cause the State Department to under-report human rights violations of strategic allies; and 2) these objectives reduce news coverage of human rights abuses for strategic allies in six U.S. national newspapers. To establish causality, we exploit plausibly exogenous variation in a country's strategic value to the U.S. from the interaction of its political alliance to the U.S. and membership on the United Nations Security Council. In addition to the main results, we are able to provide qualitative evidence and indirect quantitative evidence to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the reduced form effects.