The Relationship Between Fox News Use and Americans’ Policy Preferences Regarding Refugees and Immigrants

Jennifer Hoewe, Cynthia Peacock, Bumsoo Kim, Matthew Barnidge


Guided by the reinforcing spirals model, this study examines whether exposure to cable news is associated with policy preferences, particularly those aimed at immigrants and refugees. Analyses of two sets of survey data (N = 200, N = 4,271) show that, after controlling for demographics, other news use, and political ideology, consuming Fox News has a unique relationship with Americans’ policy preferences. Respondents who reported consuming Fox News (online or on TV) preferred stricter policies aimed at immigrants and refugees; however, use of MSNBC and CNN was not related to these policy preferences. A content analysis revealed that published far fewer stories (N = 123) about immigrants and refugees in the time periods immediately preceding the surveys than did (N = 211). However, these stories provided a different contextualization by emphasizing authority and subversion and deemphasizing care. These findings suggest that Fox News is creating/reinforcing its consumers’ migration-related policy preferences, whereas no such relationship exists for MSNBC and CNN consumers.


Fox News, cable news, policy preferences, immigrants, refugees, reinforcing spirals

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