Those Pew people always crank out the best data. Their most recent report, which can be mined for many blogs, includes three knowledge questions and breaks down the results by various demographics and media use patterns. The link to the actual report is on an earlier blog.
First, the basics. The three questions asked respondents to identity Condi Rice (secretary of state), Gordon Brown (Brit prime minister), and which party controls the House of Representatives. People did better on Congress, less well on Rice, and least well on Brown. No surprise there. Men outscored women, even on the Condi Rice question, which kinda surprised me. GOPers do better than Dems, older people do better than younger people.
And then there's this long list of TV networks, programs, magazines, news sources, and so on and so on, comparing knowledge. Now this stuff really matters little unless you control statistically for all the demographics that predict who reads National Enquirer versus The Atlantic. In Pew's defense they try to do this, bluntly, by breaking down college grads versus non-grads.
The table is a bit confusing at first glance, but makes sense once you give it some thought. Elite media draw higher educated audiences and do much better than supermarket tabloid readers. CNN and Fox have demographic differences but those people do about the same on this test of knowledge.
Here's a fascinating bit of trivia: Hannity and Colmes has a lower educated audience, but those viewers do damn well on the knowledge test. Love the show, hate the show, it's doing something right.
There's a load of material here I want to get into. Saving it for later blogs.