Dr Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay (Birmingham University): Triggering extremist platforms: political consequences of profit-seeking media
We analyse the effect of a non-partisan, profit-maximizing media outlet on the policy choice of an office-seeking politician of unknown quality, facing a swing voter.
The politician chooses a policy-platform when challenging an incumbent of known quality located at the ideal policy of the voter. The media learns (probabilistically) the quality of the challenger through costly investment. The voter cares for both policy and quality of the candidates and can learn what the media discovered by paying an access fee. We show that `political pessimism' makes the challenger attempt to signal his quality through an `extremist platform' as that increases the informational value of access for the voter and hence generates 'free media coverage' for the politician. This mechanism applies to alternative scenarios where media coverage of extremists has `entertainment value' for the voter or where the voter herself indulges in costly search. We also propose a reinterpretation of the model to address how profit-seeking media can alleviate ideological populism.
An Economics and Finance research seminar.