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October 16, 2003

Numbers to back up "Fox News makes dumb crackers dumber" theory

An exhaustive study reported in the WaPo confirms the obvious. "The fair and balanced folks at Fox, the survey concludes, were 'the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions.'"

It would be great if this was just sloppy journalism. But writer Harold Meyerson hits the nail on the head:

One question inevitably raised by these findings is whether Fox News is failing or succeeding. Over at CBS, the news that 71 percent of viewers hold one of these mistaken notions should be cause for concern, but whether such should be the case at Fox because 80 percent of their viewers are similarly mistaken is not at all clear. Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and the other guys at Fox have long demonstrated a clearer commitment to changing public policy than to reporting it, and an even clearer commitment to reporting it in such a way as to change it.

Take a wild flight of fancy with me and assume for just a moment that one major goal over at Fox is to ensure Bush's reelection. Surely, anyone who believes that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were in cahoots, that we've found the WMD and that Bush is revered among the peoples of the world -- all of these known facts to nearly half the Fox viewers -- is a good bet to be a Bush voter in next year's contest. By this standard -- moving votes into Bush's column and keeping them there -- Fox has to be judged a stunning success. It's not so hot on conveying information as such, but mere empiricism must seem so terribly vulgar to such creatures of refinement as Murdoch and Ailes.

Posted by jay at October 16, 2003 11:33 AM | TrackBack
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