Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fox Viewers Misinformed?

Jon Stewart visited Chris Wallace of Fox News and said the following:
Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers?  The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll.
Love your work, Jon.  And I sympathize with your frustrations.  But it ain't so. Politifact even fact checked Stewart and found out -- it ain't so.

But Politifact gets it kinda wrong too.

There is misinformed.  There is uninformed.  I think Stewart really meant what he said -- misinformed -- while Politifact appears to focus on a different concept -- uninformed.

Allow me split some conceptual hairs here.

Uninformed is fairly straightforward.  People do poorly on tests of political knowledge.  Politifact notes that while Fox viewers in general don't do particularly well on such tests, viewers of specific Fox programs, such as The O'Reilly Factor, do just as well as Stewart's own audience for The Daily Show.

Misinformed, though, is different.  For example, Fox viewers back in ancient times believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq even when it became obvious to the rest of the planet that no, there weren't any, not for quite a while.  I think this is what Stewart meant, that Fox viewers are misinformed because of the slant, the angle, the conservative bent and narrative of the network even in its "straight" news.  That's being misinformed, not uninformed.  Even Politifact admits this by saying: "This study is probably the strongest support we found for Stewart’s claim, in part because the difference between Fox and the other news outlets was so stark, and in part because the questions asked have pretty clear-cut "right" and "wrong" answers."

As much as I respect Politifact, score this one for Stewart.  The truth-o-meter should not read False. 

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