In 2012 a Fairleigh Dickinson University Survey reported that Fox News viewer knew less about current events that those who didn’t follow the news at all. The survey did not include items on esoteric knowledge but rather basic facts such as “Which party has the most seats in the House of representatives, right now. Fox News had failed to impart which party held the majority to many of its viewers.
Another survey involved twelve questions spanning current events, geography, science, religion, and personal finance. Fox News viewers averaged 57% correct. This was better than the no-news crowd, but the lowest of all the actual news sources. The most informed news audiences, scoring over 65% included those who followed PBS, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and, believe it or not, The Daily Show.
Poundstone presents a variety of explanations for these results, even though they are based on correlational studies, so cause and effect cannot be ascertained. These are all conjectures.
Since this is HM’s blog he is free to presents his own conjectures, so here they are, but readers should be aware that they are only conjectures. Fox advertises that it presents fair and balanced news, but the fairness and the evenness of the balance depends on a particular point of view. Fox has identified that point of view and caters its presentations to it. As it has the largest audience, one can only conclude that it has been successful.
But this fairness and balancing requires neglecting certain information, information that might have been on the survey. Even though many, if not most, Fox viewers have other sources of information, they tend to identify Fox with truth and neglect contrary information. With a remote in hand a viewer can easily ignore information that is not validated by Fox.
The problem might not be so much one of being ill-informed, but of being wrongly informed. HM’s interaction with Fox viewers has led him to believe that they live in an alternative reality that is not reflected in the lower performance of Fox viewers on these surveys. HM has found this alternative reality to be most disturbing.
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