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Mediated Terrorism: US News and Al-Qaeda Attacks

Michael Jetter ()

No 6804, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Group Munich

Abstract: This paper presents an empirical test for the hypothesis that US news coverage of al-Qaeda causes al-Qaeda attacks. To isolate causality, disaster deaths worldwide provide an instrumental variable crowding out al-Qaeda coverage. Studying daily al-Qaeda coverage by CNN, NBC, CBS, and Fox News, as well as the NYT and the WaPo, results consistently produce a positive and statistically significant effect. At its mean, al-Qaeda coverage is suggested to cause 1.2-2.3 al-Qaeda attacks (equivalent to 5.8-10.9 deaths) in the upcoming week. Results are remarkably consistent across media outlets and it appears unlikely that attacks are simply delayed when coverage is low.

Keywords: al-Qaeda; media attention; media effects; terrorism; 9/11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C26 D74 F52 L82 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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