Yet another study has shown that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed about important political issues — this time, global warming. This is no surprise, of course; Fox News openly advertises its agenda on climate change, and this isn't even the first study to show that Fox viewers are less likely to accept the scientific position. But it adds to a growing body of evidence that there's nothing benign about Fox's misinformation campaign.
Feldman and her colleagues reported on their analysis of a 2008 national survey, which found that “Fox News viewing manifests a significant, negative association with global warming acceptance.” Viewers of the station were less likely to agree that “most scientists think global warming is happening” and less likely to think global warming is mostly caused by human activities, among other measures. Viewers of CNN and MSNBC were the opposite.
And no wonder: Through a content analysis of Fox coverage in 2007 and 2008, Feldman and her colleagues also demonstrated that Fox coverage is more dismissive about climate science, and features more climate skeptics.
Chris Mooney at DeSmogBlog makes this the seventh study to show Fox News viewers lagging behind other audiences, when it comes to being in touch with reality. In addition to climate change, they also have fewer facts on health care, the Iraq war, the 2010 midterms, and the so-called "Ground Zero mosque." Of course, this could be because the Fox News audience is self-selecting — it's less that it makes people persistently wrong, and more that only persistently wrong people watch it. The most recent study does show that it's definitely a correlation with Fox-watching, though, and not with generally right-wing views:
There is also a fascinating finding that those Republicans who do watch CNN/MSNBC are more persuaded than Democratic viewers are to accept global warming. In other words, Republicans in the study seem much more easily swayed by media framing than Democrats. Put them in the Fox information stream, just add water, and watch denialism sprout. Put them in another information stream, though, and something very different might happen.
After seven studies showing that Fox News viewers are consistently the most misinformed, you'd think Fox would start to realize that there was something wrong with either its programming choices or its audience. But since when has scientific consensus meant anything to these folks?
Get Grist in your inbox