Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fox News leaves viewers knowing less than watching no news at all

From Fairleigh Dickinson University:
According to the latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll, some news sources make us less likely to know what’s going on in the world. In the most recent study, the poll asked New Jerseyans about current events at home and abroad, and from what sources – if any – they get their information. The conclusion: Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who they don’t watch any news at all. ...

For example, people who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hour cable news networks, are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). Fox News watchers are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news.

"Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll. "Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all." [my emphasis]

Surprised? Somehow, I'm not.

Obviously, everyone gets news in some way, even if it's just in social conversation. But that Fox "News" viewers are particularly ill-informed - or, at least,  misinformed - is no news at all.

Well, that's what I would think, isn't it? And I'm sure on some matters they're well-informed, if quite often misinformed, by Fox "News." Ask them who the president is, and I'm sure they'll get that right. (Ask them about the president's background or policies and they'll likely believe complete lies.)

I'm predisposed to believe the absolute worst about Fox "News," and I think I've got good reason for that. But I value the truth, so I'm always going to take any poll result with a grain of salt, even when - maybe even especially when - I want to believe it.

Still, I'm always willing to laugh at Fox "News," and to criticize what they've done to American journalism. I don't need a poll to tell me they've been very bad for our democracy.

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