Fox News: A Bad Influence for Anyone Who Wants to Know What’s Going on in the World

To the best of your knowledge, have the opposition groups protesting in Egypt been successful in bringing down the regime there? According to the latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll, those who learn about current events from Fox News are significantly less likely to know the correct answer to that question than those who say they avoid news shows and newspapers all together. Study Shows Fox News Viewers Less Informed on Major Stories.

[P]eople who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hourcable 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… By contrast, some media sources have a positive effect on political knowledge…[T]he best informed respondents are those that watched Sunday morning news programs: leading to a 16-point increase in the likelihood of knowing what happened in Egypt and an 8-point increase in the likelihood of knowing what happened in Syria.”

Professor Dan Cassino, analyst for the PublicMind Poll, states that the results are not driven by certain groups being more likely to watch Fox News. Rather, Cassino continues, “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.” Indeed, this is not the first poll to indicate that Fox viewers are significantly more misinformed than others in regards to both foreign and domestic current events. Fox News Contributes to Spread of Rumors About Proposed NYC; Misinformation and the 2010 Election; Misperceptions, The Media and The Iraq War.

So, what is it about Fox News that correlates to these results?

7 comments

  1. I love this study but actually thought it was something commonly accepted by everyone like…gravity. I haven’t watched it in years since I both realized I didn’t like it and learned of the actual top down bias of its reporting. It is unfortunate though that those that do watch it as their news source are not often not aware of its deficiencies. Perhaps it is because of its slogan of “fair and balanced”. This should no more easily be believed than…well, any other baseless slogan or statement.

  2. I think anyone that only goes to one outlet for their news gathering needs is destined to be uninformed. The best way to get a good grasp on a topic is to look at it from all angles. How do the proponents feel? What are the arguments for the opposition? How would this affect me? How is this story being reported elsewhere?

    Unfortunately, Fox News does not provide that type of objective journalism. It goes without saying that they present a conservative twist on most news stories. But I’m not sure that an individual who gets all of their news from MSNBC or Air America would fair that much better. I think what this study reflects, and what may not be conveyed through its findings, is that Fox News viewers are less likely to go anywhere other than Fox News for updates on current events and that, not Fox News alone, leads to a poorer understanding on international events.

  3. I would like to see if a study that looked into viewers of the other cable news networks, like CNN, would also come out the same way. While the Fox News audience is generally more conservative, the other cable news networks seem to attract more liberal viewers. Fox news also spends a large part of its time on news commentary rather than hard news coverage, and this may influence how well its viewers are informed. Perhaps viewers of these other networks will be lacking in knowledge of things that Fox viewers know because there will be less coverage of things that do not appeal to the political leanings of their audience base. Whatever the reason, it would be interesting to see the results of a similar study conducted with other news networks.

    Everyone would benefit from news networks that were actually “fair and balanced.” We would all be better informed and able to make more knowledgeable decisions. Unfortunately, this is not the world we live in. Special interests rule the day and have grabbed hold of large parts of the news reporting outlets. The best that we can do is view multiple news sources so that we can discern the truth after studying more than one source.

  4. I do not think the statement, that someone who has not watched the news at all is more informed about what is going in the world than someone who watches Fox News, is accurate. Aren’t those who choose not to watch the news, ignorant? Someone who watches the news whether on Fox News or not has to be more informed on what is going on in the world than one who shuts his or her eyes to the news.

    Of course, news stations can filter what stories to air and what commentators can deliver their opinion on their station.
    So, is the problem that Fox News reports the same news stories through commentators’ opinions rather than just reiterating the facts? What sparks this debate? Is it the mode of delivery or the claim that critical facts are being withheld to the public?

  5. I find it very hard to believe that an individual choosing to watch Fox News is less informed than one who remains completely (and possibly blissfully) ignorant to the news. However, it seems like this study is stilted against the network itself and the content of the new reports rather than the viewers. Either way, can it really be reliable? I’m sure that a Fox News patron could whip up a study just as equally jarring, which finds CNN viewers to be less likely to understand domestic and foreign politics than an individual who chooses to not watch the news at all. Regardless of your network affiliation or the amount of news you watch, critics will always be among us, arguing that the stories told by competitors are lacking in some way, shape, or form.

  6. As I’ve seen this article numerous times, and have read it over and over again, it still puzzles me! I simply do not understand how people who watch no news at all, can be less informed than people who watch some sort of news, whether it be “fair and balanced” or not. Even if Fox news was feeding people incorrect information, it still seems like they would know something. But, as these articles are reporting, people who watch Fox news literally know less about certain issues than people who do not watch the news at all. In reading the Huffington post article, I found it interesting as they explained, “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. 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.” Basically, it seems like they are saying that watching Fox news actually makes people dumber. Is this possible??

  7. Even though I am not a patron of Fox News, nor do I subscribe to its ideology, I think one explanation for the results of the Fairleigh Dickinson study could be the fact that Fox News seems to focus their television coverage mostly on domestic issues and foreign issues that the United States is directly involved in (or at least this is what I see every time I stumble upon Fox News). For instance, the fact that Fox News viewers did not know the outcome of the revolutions in Egypt and Syria could be that Fox News simply did not focus a lot of energy into covering these stories. And even if time was devoted to reporting these stories, it is possible that the station did not deem them important enough to be covered on popular shows or at times of heightened viewership (i.e. primetime, etc.). In the end, this idea seems to relate back to what Brian said in his earlier post: In order for someone to get a full grasp on what is happening in the United States and across the world, it really is necessary that the individual look to more than one outlet for information on current events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.