As if Bill O'Reilly wasn't proof enough, thanks to a study conducted by Steven Kull of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, we now have empirical evidence that Fox News absolutely blows.
According to the study, 80 percent of those who relied upon Fox News as their single news source believed one of the following three misperceptions:
- U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
- There is clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the 9/11 terrorists.
- People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.
The study determined that among those with one of the three misperceptions, 53 percent supported the war in Iraq. Among those with two, 78 percent supported the war. Among those with all three, 86 percent supported it. By contrast, only 23 percent of those polled who had none of the misperceptions were in support of the war.
Respondents whose single news source was among the other major media outlets fared as follows:
One has to wonder what the nature of the weak journalism was that could propagate these misperceptions. According to an analysis of the study by Frank Davies:
Susan Moeller, a University of Maryland professor, said that much reporting had consisted of "stenographic coverage of government statements," with less attention to whether the government's statements were accurate.
It's just unnerving how the media slogan Fair and Balanced has become as ironic as the newspaper title Pravda (meaning "truth" in Russian) did during the height of the Soviet Union. Considering how vital the media is to a functioning democracy, when are we going to start taking this level of avoidable misperception seriously?