Semester of Graduation

May 2022


Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



Enduring traditions of critiques on partisan news media, and Fox News in particular, have painted Fox News as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. These critiques gained more purchase during the Trump presidency, from 2017-2021. Research examining partisan news effects has shown differences in partisan news outlets broadly, yet these studies have overlooked within-outlet changes over-time. This study examines coverage from the conservative partisan news outlet Fox News over an eight-year period to distinguish differences in coverage between a Democrat-held White House and a Republican-held White House. Opinion show coverage and hard news coverage were examined separately due to distinct differences in production and content, which characterize each set of coverage.

This study used automated text analysis to measure the tone of transcripts (N= 9,795) from shows aired on Fox News between 2013 to 2021, and comparisons were conducted on overall tone between administrations (2013-2017 and 2017-2021) as well as between opinion and hard show coverage. Bayesian structural time series models were created to determine the impact of administration change on tone coverage.

Results show that overall, coverage on Fox News was more positive from 2017 to 2021 in comparison to 2013-2017. Hard news coverage from 2013-2017 was significantly negative, while opinion show coverage was significantly positive. From 2017-2021, hard news coverage became positive, and opinion show coverage became negative. Bayesian statistical analyses on hard news, opinion shows, and on individual shows, indicate that the change in White House administration had a significant effect on coverage tone. These results suggest that Fox News coverage does change depending on White House administration, with consequences for media influence.

Committee Chair

Searles, Kathleen



Available for download on Thursday, April 05, 2029