Monday, November 21, 2011

What Fox Folks Know (or Don't Know)

A study out today is getting a wee bit of attention as it suggests viewers of Fox News know less than those who don't watch news.  Or, as the report says:
"Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll. "Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."
Let's establish a few important facts about this.
  1. This is not a peer-reviewed study.  That's important to keep in mind.
  2. Despite #1 above, the report lays out the methodology and tables nicely, so let's not get persnickety about academic publishing.
  3. The questions tended to be about international news.  Especially on Egypt on Syria.  Not Fox's strong point.
  4. But, despite #3 above, some were on domestic issues.
  5. Question K5 in the report baffles the hell out of me.  It's about the Wall Street protesters are Democrats or Republicans (aren't they Independents, as one earlier study found?  That's not a choice, just "other").  And there are negative scores.  Weird.  I finally figured them out, sorta kinda, but it shouldn't be that hard.
  6. There are a lot more Dems or lean-Dems than GOPers and leaners.  That's a bit odd at first, but these are folks in New Jersey, not a national sample.
  7. And it's that last one, the fact it's folks from New Jersey, that makes the study of more narrow interest and utility. 
All in all, kinda interesting.  Not generalizable, and I might quibble with the questions and such, but it strikes me as a pro job with fascinating results. 

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