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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 12, 2021

Understanding Trump Supporters’ News Use: Beyond the Fox News Bubble

Sadie Dempsey, Jiyoun Suk, Katherine J. Cramer, Lewis A. Friedland, Michael W. Wagner and Dhavan V. Shah
From the journal The Forum


Since the 2016 election, the relationship between Trump supporters and Fox News has gained considerable attention. Drawing on interviews with more than 200 people and a representative survey conducted in the state of Wisconsin, we dive deeper into the media habits of Trump supporters using a mixed methods analytical approach. While we do not refute the importance of Fox News in the conservative media ecology, we find that characterizing Trump supporters as isolated in Fox News bubbles obscures the fact that many are news omnivores, or people who consume a wide variety of news. In fact, we find that Trump supporters may have more politically heterogeneous consumption habits than Trump non-supporters. We find that 17% of our survey respondents who support Trump in Wisconsin are regularly exposed to ideologically heterogeneous news media. We also find that like other voters, Trump supporters are disenchanted with the divisive nature of contemporary media and politics. Finally, we analyze the media use of young Trump supporters and find an especially high level of news omnivorousness among them.

Corresponding author: Katherine J. Cramer, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, USA, E-mail:


We are grateful to the many people who shared their time with us for the purposes of this study. Special thanks to Monica Busch for extensive fieldwork that contributed to this project. Thank you to Kyler Hudson for research assistance. Support for this research was provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


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Published Online: 2021-02-12

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