Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

David Bjerk

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This paper examines the impact of trusting Fox News on employment for essential workers (i.e. those who cannot work from home) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trusting Fox News has a substantially larger impact on employment behavior among essential workers than trusting MSNBC, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Public Health Officials. Nationally-representative data is collected from USC’s Understanding America Study (UAS), a panel dataset of 8,425 respondents from March 10, 2020 through March 30, 2021. Among workers in essential services, respondents who trusted Fox News had a greater likelihood of obtaining employment during the pandemic. On the contrary, those who trusted government health agencies (the CDC or WHO) or public health officials exhibited a decrease in employment, indicating some respondents even left their frontline positions, potentially out of caution. Because Fox News was the clear outlier, this paper examines Fox News’s audience beliefs and behaviors regarding COVID safety. While 5% of respondents who trusted the WHO and 7% of respondents who trusted the CDC changed their social activities during COVID, Fox News viewers did not change make any changes. Lastly, this paper will assess what messages Fox News promoted in March of 2020 and evaluate the economic implications of their words upon their supporter’s employment decisions.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.