RE: Are FOX Viewers Less Well-Informed?

I appreciate longtime correspondent Kris N., who challenged my contention in yesterday’s blog posts about the Tea Party that FOX News viewers were generally not very well-informed about current issues — a factor, I believe, in their rush to a Tea Party not working at for their best interest.

And I had intended to wrap up my response to Cathy by discussing how poorly-held Tea Party leaders’ grasp of government is, but first I need to acknowledge that there is evidence that FOX News viewers, according to one study, are not really more- or terribly less-well-informed than others, but rank about average. Kris forwarded me that study, which you can review here:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/jun/20/jon-stewart/jon-stewart-says-those-who-watch-fox-news-are-most/

This certainly means that the research discussed does NOT conclude that FOX viewers are consistently less well-informed, and so, insofar as I based my contention on research, I have to say that it does NOT support what I said. But here are other studies that do:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×3563986

Please note that while the website is a Democratic one, the research wasn’t conducted by pollsters of either political affiliation. There’s also:

http://thinkprogress.org/default/2007/04/16/11946/daily-show-fox-knowledge/

Again, this is a liberal site, but it reports on another Pew Research poll.

Here’s the point: I was wrong in suggesting that it is a universally-held truth that FOX News viewers are less well-informed than other media consumers, and for that I apologize. I acknowledge that the three studies offer different conclusions; you’re all able to make up your minds as to which is/are more compelling. Nonetheless, the evidence isn’t rock-solid, and I was wrong in proclaiming that it is. Neither should I have conflated what I see as the Tea Party’s willful, stubborn ignorance with a general ignorance on the part of FOX viewers, and I shouldn’t have relied on one report — the poll regarding information on FOX viewers and knowledge of the Iraqi War/WMDs — to make a point just as easily made without discussing FOX at all. In short, it was sloppy on my part, and I apologize.

I don’t believe, however, that changes my previous analysis of the Tea Party, and I don’t think it affects what I had planned to write about tomorrow — that Tea Party leaders show an unnerving lack of understanding of history, government, and economics. Our three-year acquaintance with the Tea Party has demonstrated that, particularly in the campaigns of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and other standard-bearers past and present, the expression of anger and an opportunistic grasping for power take up far more energy than a determined grasp of the facts.

In short, I do not see the Tea Party as a hotbed of intellectual foment, not because the people in it are stupid, but because they seem to believe that facts matter less than rhetoric and that sound bites equal good policy. They have chosen to abandon what’s true for what’s preferred, have been energized by rage over reason, and have entrusted their political, social, and economic futures to a group of people either as un-informed as they continue to choose to be, or who benefit enormously from their followers’ continued wanderings in the angry darkness.

Tomorrow or Wednesday: What The Tea Party Gets Wrong (And Seemingly Takes Pride In Doing So), and, finally, Why I Refer To It As A “Christian” Movement — And Always With Quotation Marks. Stay tuned.

And Kris — thanks again. Really.

2 Responses to “RE: Are FOX Viewers Less Well-Informed?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I will respond at some point, but, I, too, was planning to echo Kris’ sentiment, i.e., that I most certainly do not agree/buy into your statement about Fox viewers being less informed.

    Painting with such a broad brush can make for a sloppy paint job.

  2. “A sloppy paint job” for which I apologized. It is NOT, as I said in my apology post, a universally-held truth that they’re less well-informed, although there is evidence that could argue either way. I was wrong, then, not only on the “it’s undeniably true” part, but also on the relevance to the point at hand — again, I should not have conflated FOX viewers with the Tea Party. I plan to pick up the topic later today or, more likely, tomorrow. Thanks for your comment.

    Keely

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