Thursday, March 7, 2013

New Poll: Fox News Viewers are "Dumbed Down"

I heard Meg Ryan on Fox News mention a new poll yesterday morning, but I was very skeptical about the way she presented the facts. So I did a Google search to find out for myself.

The headline about the new poll at ABC's website loudly proclaims:

Most Back Cuts Overall – But Not to the Military

It was as though Fox News ran with JUST the headline, primarily ignoring other aspects of the poll. Although, when comparing ABC's headline to the actual polls numbers, ABC does sound rather biased. But here is the raw break down once you get around ABC's convoluted expression of the numbers and people's opinions.

According to the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, by nearly 2-1 (61-33 percent), most Americans support a 5% cut in "overall" federal spending --- but they also oppose an 8% "across-the-board" cut in military spending.

AND THIS IS IMPORTANT --- The ABC/Post poll (pdf) also has found a continued preference for a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit.

Fox News doesn't like to mention the aspect of tax increases as a major component for dealing with the sequester (and when they do, they usually just say "raise taxes", not "raise taxes on the rich"). Nor did they explain the difference between the general preferences of "overall" and "across-the-board". It was as though Fox News wanted us to believe that most people supported cuts to food stamps, but that those same people also wanted to build more aircraft carriers.

The poll also showed a greater approval for Obama vs. the Republicans in Congress on handling federal spending (as reported in an ABC/Post poll last week).

Fox News always prefers to cherry pick the facts inside the poll numbers to promote their own agenda, rather than just reporting the plain straight facts. For example:

Bill O'Reilly likes to brag that Fox News is the #1 watched "cable news show" (which they are); but what they don't tell you is, when compared to "all TV news shows" (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, etc.), collectively speaking, most people get their news from OTHER news sources --- meaning, OTHER than Fox News.

The “2011 State of the News Media Report" by the Pew Center on Excellence in Journalism found that in 2010, Fox News cumulative audience was 41.1 million, coming in second to CNN with 41.7 million. Now add all the other TV news outlets, even including Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

It's all in how you read the numbers in the polls. The last time I checked, Fox News only received about 30% of the market share (of all news programming), and the remaining "mainstream" stations received the other 70% (collectively).

A poll by the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports finds that "47% believe that media bias is a bigger problem than campaign contributions". That's not surprising, as every news outlet has an opinion, just as every poll is going to be biased to some degree or another. But when it comes down to the actual reporting of facts, Fox News is the most skewed; and most Americans who are the most informed also believe that Fox News is the most biased --- and that their regular full-time viewers are the least informed --- as these other polls and studies below show:

  • A poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports during September 2004 found that Fox News was seen as second to CBS as the most politically biased network in the public view.
  • A Pew Research survey found that only one in four (25%) believe all or most of what they see on Fox News Channel. This was virtually unchanged since Fox News was first tested in 2000.
  • According to the results of a 2006 study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, Fox News was the most frequently cited as a news outlet taking an ideological stance in its coverage.
  • The Project on Excellence in Journalism also reported in 2006 that 68 percent of Fox News cable stories contained personal opinions, as compared to CNN at 4 percent. The "content analysis" portion of their 2005 report also concluded that Fox News "was measurably more one-sided than the other networks, and Fox journalists were more opinionated on the air."
  • A study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that viewers of Fox News were more likely to be misinformed on specific issues when compared to viewers of comparable media --- and that this likelihood increased proportionally to the frequency of viewing Fox News.
  • A 2010 Stanford University survey found "more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejections of many mainstream scientists’ claims about global warming and with less trust in scientists".
  • A 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey on U.S. misperceptions about health care reform found that Fox News viewers scored lower for factual knowledge than other news viewers.
  • A 2010 Ohio State University study of public misperceptions found that viewers who relied on Fox News were 66% more likely to believe incorrect rumors than those with "low reliance" on Fox News.
  • In 2011, a study by Fairleigh Dickinson University found that New Jersey Fox News viewers were less well informed than people who did not watch any news at all.

I took my own "new poll" and I found that Fox News viewers are indeed "dumbed down"; but it's not their fault, because Fox News has a specific agenda that favors mostly wealthier Americas. Fox News could care less about the middle-class and the poor people in this country --- whether they're Democratic or Republican voters. And I'm not meaning to sound mean, critical, or insulting to people who do watch Fox News, because I know...I used watched it for ten years before I started doing my own independent fact-checking.

And if you disagree with me, then you must only Fox News 24/7, so you can't be held responsible for being "dumbed down".

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