Friday, October 24, 2014

Conservatives Get Their News From Fox. Who Knew?

What exactly do conservatives like about Fox News? The facts? Nah...

Holy obviouser-than-heck, Batman, a new Pew study finds that while liberals spread their favorite news providers over a large cluster and trust a good portion of providers beyond that, conservatives are broadly distrustful of most news outlets and rely primarily on Fox News for their "information."

I use information in scare quotes because Fox News has been caught red-handed doing a very bad job of informing its viewers. This might be old news, but it remains apt: A 2012 study found that Fox News viewers were less informed than people who didn't view the news at all.

Now more of this is coming to light. Amanda Marcotte at Salon has a good rundown of the new studies by Pew. Key paragraphs:
The findings were astounding. Out of the 36 news sources, consistent liberals trusted 28, a mix of liberal and mainstream news sources. Mostly, liberal respondents generally agreed, holding out a little more skepticism for overtly ideological sources like Daily Kos or ThinkProgress, but not actually distrusting them, either. The only news sources liberals didn’t trust, generally, are overtly right-wing ones, such as Fox News, the Blaze, Breitbart, or Rush Limbaugh’s show.
Conservatives, on the other hand, saw betrayers and liars around every corner. Consistent conservatives distrusted a whopping 24 out of 36 outlets and mostly conservative respondents distrusted 15 and were skeptical of quite a few more. The hostility wasn’t just to well-known liberal sources like MSNBC. Strong conservatives hated all the network news, CNN, NPR, and the major national outlets, except the Wall Street Journal.  Respondents who are mostly conservative fared better, but were still hostile to the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as skeptical of mainstream organizations like CBS and NBC News.
Conservatives watch Fox News because they're wildly distrustful of other sources, in part, I assume, because Fox News breeds this distrust. Liberals, on the other hand, spread their sources of information around because they're more apt to look for facts to inform their opinions rather than have their opinions ratified.

Now, I'm a liberal, and I listen to MSNBC -- I have Sirius XM in my car -- and I do so because I want to follow politics. MSNBC has a liberal slant, I grant that, but I'm in it for the political news, and I get that from them because they're obsessed with political rather than "news news," such as car crashes and car chases and murders in Dallas. I admit, though, that I'm comfortable with MSNBC's politics. I won't admit that "both sides do it." MSNBC has a liberal bias, which is also reality-based.

I watch Fox News from time to time, but not for the news. I watch to find out what they're up to, and generally they're fear-mongering and condemning Barack Obama and shouting Benghazi, IRS, and ISIS and Ebola and Obama! I wish that were an exaggeration, but it's not.

Also read the Ezra Klein article at about this. Aside from some pretty cool graphs that demonstrate the growing political polarization over the years, you'll find out that we are more polarized but not more extreme. That's an important distinction.

The far right is just as conservative as it's always been, and the far left is where it's been for a long time. What's changed is that, unlike in the past, there are much fewer conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. Those days are over.

Finally, we as a nation tend to fear the results of the other side's winning an election, that the world as we know it will come crashing down if "they" win. While innately we know that's not true -- Bush spent money like a sailor, and Obama didn't dismantle the surveillance state Bush assembled -- each side does like to hold to its stereotypes. I do it, almost against my will.

It'll only get worse in the near-term. I actually long for the days when the shifting electorate puts more power in the hands of minorities, be they women, gays, blacks, Latinos, or Asian-Americans. We could use some fresh blood.

Let's go out with a taste of Fox News talking about media bias. Rich!

By the way, the graph showing how biased the "mainstream media" is against Republican news was provided by Media Research Center, described by Wikipedia as " politically conservative content analysis organization based in Reston, Virginia, founded in 1987 by activist L. Brent Bozell III." Here's a taste of where Bozell is coming from. It's not for the faint of heart.

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