(2022). “How the Ultra-Rich Use Media Ownership as a Political Investment.” Journal of Politics 84(4): pp. 1913-1931.
Can the ultrarich shape electoral results by controlling media outlets that openly propagate their political interests? Whether consumers discount slanted media coverage is a question gaining urgency as a growing number of billionaires mix ownership of major media outlets with business interests and political agendas. We study this question in the context of Israel, where billionaire Sheldon Adelson launched in 2007 Israel Hayom, a right-leaning newspaper. Handed out for free, it soon became the most widely read newspaper nationally. Using local media exposure data since the launch, our analysis indicates that the newspaper exerted significant electoral influence, primarily benefiting Netanyahu and his Likud party. This shift helped bring about a sea change in the right’s dominance of national politics. The findings highlight the immense impact the ultrarich can exert in shaping politics through media ownership.