Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fox News viewers completely misinformed: study

As the Times reports, a new study "conducted by, a project that is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, shows that Fox News viewers are a deeply misinformed bunch:

According to the study, which can be reviewed online, in most cases, the more a person watched and read the news, the less likely they were to have been misled about the facts. But "there were however a number of cases where greater exposure to a news source increased misinformation on a specific issue," the study's authors wrote. In particular, they found that regular viewers of the Fox News Channel, which tilts to the right in prime time, were significantly more likely to believe untruths about the Democratic health care overhaul, climate change and other subjects.


The study's authors continued, "These effects increased incrementally with increasing levels of exposure and all were statistically significant. The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it — though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican."

Other media outlets, including MSNBC, produce varying degrees of misinformation, of course, on different subjects, but Fox News is by far the worst offender.

In response to the study, a Fox News executive predictably ripped into the University of Maryland, instead of actually addressing the study and its findings, citing the Princeton Review to dismiss it as a major party school with lazy students who don't study much, as if the study had been conducted not by serious researchers but by some drunk dudes during frosh week. As the Times notes, though, the Princeton Review ranks Maryland quite highly. Moreover, "[t]he study was backed by two parts of the University of Maryland, the Center on Policy Attitudes and the Center for International and Security Studies," the latter of which in particular cannot easily be dismissed.

Anyway, does the study actually tell us anything we didn't already know? No, of course not, it just quantifies the obvious. Which certainly makes it somewhat useful insofar as it bolsters the case many of us continue to make on a frequent basis.

I would just note, contra the Times, that Fox News doesn't just "[tilt] to the right in prime time. It tilts far to the right all the time -- ever see Fox & Friends?

And I would just ask this: While there is no doubt that Fox News, as an organ of Republican propaganda, is in the business of partisan misinformation, does watching it produce so much misinformation or were the people who watch it frequently, mostly conservatives with mouths agape, swallowing whole everything that is fed to them, deeply misinformed to begin with?

It's a chicken-and-egg thing, and it's no doubt some combination of the two: misinformation feeding upon and feeding misinformation in an endlessly manipulative cycle of ever-deepening ignorance and idiocy.

Yes, that pretty much describes how it works at Fox News.

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  • With internal e-mails leaking out that show the Republican party dictating how Fox must spin things and that they do cast doubt on indubitable facts, ignore proofs of their perfidy, invent stories, cut and paste photos, videos and e-mails to give out a creative collage of misinformation, disinformation and damned lies -- you'd think there'd be a growing skepticism about Fox.

    BUT, friends of Fox never, ever listen to anything else and Fox never, ever admits to anything or retracts even the mildest of their misrepresentations and they just sail on like a ship of fools, rocking us with their wake.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 11:11 AM  

  • And yet, nobody is surprised, either at the news of the uninformed or the ad hominem reaction of Fox News itself.

    By Blogger Muddy Politics, at 12:08 PM  

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