Study: Watching Fox News makes you ignorant



There’s a new study you should read — or at least read the summary if you don’t have time to take on the whole thing. You’ll be surprised by what it tells you about American voters. Or, sadly, you may not be surprised at all. World Public Opinion, a project of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, surveyed a representative sample of American voters, and found, among other things, that American voters — Republican, Democrat and independent — were “substantially misinformed” (what you and I call “ignorant”) about many issues.

Fifty-seven percent of those who voted Democratic, for instance, were inclined to believe it was a proven fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent oodles of foreign money to help GOP candidates; and 51 percent of them thought Obama had not increased the number of troops in Afghanistan.

Republican voters, on the other hand, overwhelmingly (73 percent) thought that most economists have concluded that the health care reform law will increase the deficit; 67 percent thought the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts; and 62 percent believed that most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring. If you find yourself agreeing with any of the above beliefs, whether held mostly by the Dems or the GOP, please do read the report. You may also want to stretch out a bit in terms of where you get your news.

Generally speaking, the survey found that voters who had more exposure to news sources were more informed, which one would expect. However, and let’s quote the report directly here: “There were, however, a number of cases where greater exposure to a particular news source increased misinformation on some issues” (our emphasis). No need to even guess which “news source” they’re talking about: it’s Fox News. Even worse news for Fox News watchers: Apparently, the more you watch it, the more misinformed you’ll be. Now, anyone who has tried to reason with a Fox News fan — or, say, has been trapped in a checkout line in front of a couple of Fox indoctrinees — can vouch for the survey’s conclusion about the “fairly imbalanced” network. The World Public Opinion survey, though, gets specific, tallying up the percentages by which Fox News viewers out-ignorant (our term) other voters. Just a couple of examples: Among those who watch Fox News nearly every day, 60 percent believe that most scientists either think climate change isn’t occurring or are evenly divided on the subject; and 56 percent think the GM bailout only happened on Obama’s watch (and was not initiated under Bush).

Recently, MediaMatters revealed that Fox’s D.C. managing editor told the network’s announcers to use specific terms when describing health care reform in order to create a more negative impression of the legislation. Today, revelations are out that the Fox D.C. news bureau chief directly told his staff to cast doubt on climate change. Those revelations, as well as numerous others that came before, make it very clear that the distortions and “misinformation” (or as your mom would’ve called it, “lies”) by Fox News are deliberate and nearly constant. The sad irony in all this, of course — and if you’re one who has tried to discuss issues with a Fox Fanatic, you already know this — is that those for whom Fox is their regular source of news often actually think of themselves as being really well-informed. If Fox News’ influence wasn’t so dangerous (as in “clear and present danger”), it might be kind of funny. But it is dangerous, so it isn’t funny. OK, it's kinda funny, but still ...

Waaaah ... that study hurts my feelings
  • Waaaah ... that study hurts my feelings

Comments (19)

Showing 1-19 of 19

Add a comment

Add a comment