Fox News Viewers Factually Worse-Informed Than People Who Don’t Follow News At All


What I have been saying for a long time.

I always ask people one question after hearing them expound with very illogical assumptions or stress to me they have ‘facts’ which I need.  ‘Facts’ which I know full-well are completely wrong.

“How do you get your news?”

The answer in these type of conversations is always the same.  Almost gleefully they respond with “Fox News.”

It is simply stunning to me in a time when so many news options and sources of information exist that people chose to be fed misinformation and pure schlock.  I watched the coverage of the massive political protest marches regarding union rights in Wisconsin (ACT 10) on national media to see how they were presented.  It was Fox News who continually betrayed any sense of journalistic integrity and lied about violence and upheaval in Madison. None existed during that time.  Placing a film image of what Fox News wanted to portray to the nation about the dreadful things happening in my city they decided to use footage of some location with a palm tree.  I can assure all that no such trees can be found in Madison in winter!

Over and over Fox News allows for a harsh conservative set-of ideas to lead them to betray what should be the higher calling of a news operation.  That is why those who watch Fox News are not informed news consumers or ready to talk with others about the issues this nation and world face.  I feel sorry that so many are duped.

James Fallows comments on a detailed study by Bruce Bartlett called “How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics.”

“Bartlett’s accumulation of detail showing (a) that Fox’s core viewers are factually worse-informed than people who follow other sources, and even those who don’t follow news at all, and (b) that the mode of perpetual outrage that is Fox’s goal and effect has become a serious problem for the Republican party, in that it pushes its candidates to sound always-outraged themselves.”

Bruce Bartlett: “Like someone dying of thirst in the desert, conservatives drank heavily from the Fox waters. Soon, it became the dominant –and in many cases, virtually the only – major news source for millions of Americans. This has had profound political implications that are only starting to be appreciated. Indeed, it can almost be called self-brainwashing – many conservatives now refuse to even listen to any news or opinion not vetted through Fox, and to believe whatever appears on it as the gospel truth.”

Fallows: When will Republicans who care about winning national elections, or actually governing, stop thinking of Fox as a help and start viewing it as a hindrance, and what will happen when they do?

8 thoughts on “Fox News Viewers Factually Worse-Informed Than People Who Don’t Follow News At All

  1. I’m not sure the conclusion of this study surprises me. The Republican Party has been “bought” by the Koch Brothers and their uber-conservative brethren. The Fox News “product” doesn’t appear to be concerned with facts and more concerned with promulgating the conservative agenda. It is an un-American endeavor. It flies in the face of the First Amendment and is actively working to undermine democracy. No wonder efforts are underway to destroy public education, scientific research, and any sense of fairness. Truth doesn’t support the Tea-publican agenda. Thanks for the posting.

  2. Tom

    Before you worry about the destruction of science, perhaps you should worry about why liberals–who are all so much smarter that the rest of use–don’t understand the First Amendment and believe that speech which disagrees with their opinions is un-American. As a private company Fox News is free to present any stories or points of view they want. The First Amendment is exactly what protects them from BadgerBabe. If she were to grasp power, one could assume she would use that power to censor Fox News and other organizations which she disagreed with. We certainly know that liberals–who protest, boycott, and ban any speech which contradicts their insipid views–are not going to defend to the end the right to speech of those who disagree. Closed and Brainwashed liberal censors in training are a far greater danger to America than Fox News.

    Just ask George Stephanopoulos. He works for a real network, doesn’t he?

  3. Tom,

    You are morphing away from the topic at hand. I am speaking to the final product from a news organization that can be viewed and read and determined either to be journalistically sound or merely a vehicle to push a political agenda. There is no governing body to make such a determination but instead there is something more powerful. The collective notion of the nation has weighed in long ago that journalism was not the reason for Fox News and that can be seen and read from their ‘journalism’. When a news network goes out of their way to mislead and create a false narrative for their own purposes than you and I need to state that is certainly unprofessional. That also should make them feel shameful for not rising to the level that any credible journalist would want to be viewed. Since they feel no shame then leaves the reasoned person to conclude that political spin is all they care about at this network.

  4. Tom

    Deke:

    I understood the original piece. I was reacting to BB’s comments. But all media organizations are biased. As members of the public we are only concerned about biases which contradict our current beliefs. You are unconcerned about issues like those recently created by Stephanopoulos, for example, and I am unconcerned by some of the excesses of FOX. You are worried about the way FOX covers science and the environment; I am worried about the way other media outlets cover science and abortion. Each of us suggests that the treads of our opponents are bad for the nation. BB brings up the Koch brothers and she knocks it out of the park, she isn’t “morphing” the topic. I get it and all these things,

    I just think there there is a more honest way to discuss these issues. Here’s a question, if the media has a responsibility to present credible speakers who represent a variety of opinions on a topic. what media outlet does a better job than FOX? Or, is the job of the media to decide which opinions are “worthy” of discussion?

  5. Tom,

    The problem that has developed in this country is partly political and partly corporate when it comes to news. I grew up with Walter Cronkite and Frank Reynolds. They gave us the nightly news and then our family read the newspaper. While everyone has biases including journalists, they should work to be present facts. It would be hard to paint either man I mentioned in a political color. I think Walter’s coming out from behind his desk moment over Vietnam was really a reflection of what his reporter’s gut over years of watching and listening told him was happening. I do not see that as political, and I think even Pres. Johnson saw it in terms larger than politics, too.

    I do not have a problem if a reporter can present the hard news on air or in a news article and then in a different venue present analysis and even show his/her cards. I grew up watching Washington Week when they had those hard-scrabble type reporters who would weigh in with thoughts on a Friday night but during the other work days the public would never know which side of the aisle they might align with.

    What has happened in our nation—and I do find it troubling—is that too many head to their respective political news organizations for information. The Cronkite types gave us facts from which we all could then start from the same place in talking as a nation. Today there is no common ground from which the public can begin a dialogue, as everyone seems to have his or her own facts based on partisan leanings.

    I am also struck over and over how those who watch Fox line up when asked to identify themselves in polls as conservatives. So from a corporate perspective they feel they have no reason to do anything than play to the audience. The powers at FOX also want to create a narrative for conservative causes and candidates, so they really do not want to change the feelings of those who watch with information that runs counter to their larger aim. In other words one never will see a story that would call on—as Frontline did last night—a thorough airing of CIA torture of those caught up in the ‘war on terror’.

    In the era of Cronkite one needed to have a credible leg to stand on before getting airtime. You ask where the cutting line should be when allowing the other side of the story to be presented. While I long argued that equal time was a worthy concept for news operations to employ, and still hold to that view I also think that given time and space constraints one does not need to find for every argument one that counters it. While having a back and forth over the flat tax is a most worthy story to present from each end there is no way that a coal company exec should be considered a valid source when trying to argue that water regulations are a waste of government time. We all know better. Or a tobacco firm telling us that smoking is really not that bad for our youth.

    Who is better with the facts and presentation of news? There are many. I will give two sources. BBC and The Economist. I also like the NYT and WSJ—both have very different opinion page perspectives—but each has a steady hand at solid journalism in the news pages. Fox could learn a lot from any of these I mentioned.

  6. Tom

    Deke:

    Your comments are very sound, and there is little need to debate what you have said. R. M. is not Cronkite, but he is certainly free to present his position. Like you I often read WSJ and NYT. There are few other options.

    However, in ranting about the well known bias of FOX without ever decrying complimentary biases at other organizations like MSNBC, ABC, NBC and some of the others, the larger point you are trying to make gets lost.

    Thanks for responding.

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