Fox News viewers less informed about current events than those who don’t watch news at all, study finds
BY Meena Hartenstein
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
If Fox News viewers want to be informed about current events, they might as well turn off the TV.
A poll released by Fairleigh Dickinson University on Monday found that people who get their news from Fox News know significantly less about news both in the U.S. and the world than people who watch no news at all.
In a survey of 612 New Jersey natives, Fox News fans flunked questions about Egypt and Syria when compared with people who don’t watch the news. Fox viewers were 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians toppled their government and 6 points less likely to be aware that Syrians have not yet overthrown theirs.
“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,” Dan Cassino, a Fairleigh Dickinson professor who served as an analyst for the poll, said in the report. “Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions that those who don’t watch any news at all.”
Those surveyed also struggled with current events closer to home. Just 47% were able to identify the Occupy Wall Street protesters as predominantly Democratic, while 11% thought they were Republican. Here it was MSNBC viewers who got it wrong the most – watching the left-leaning network was linked to a 10-point increase in the likelihood of misidentifying the demonstrators.
MSNBC viewers did have a 10-point higher chance, however, of correctly identifying Mitt Romney as a frontrunner in the race for a 2012 GOP nominee. Fox News viewers didn’t benefit — or suffer — in this category, a fact Cassino called “very surprising” given the amount of attention the network has paid to the candidates.
The most informative outlets were found to be the Sunday morning news shows as well as outlets like the New York Times, USA today and NPR.
Another powerful source of news was the “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
Stewart’s viewers had a 12-point higher likelihood of correctly identifying the Wall Street protesters, for example.
“Jon Stewart has not spent a lot of time on some of these issues,” Cassino said. “But the results show that when he does talk about something, his viewers pick up a lot more information than they would from other news sources.”