According to a new book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality, by author Chris Mooney, Fox News viewers are more misinformed than viewers of any other major news channel. Some of the topics that Fox News viewers tend to be wrong about the most include the Iraq War, global warming and health care. From Alternet.org:
So who’s closed-minded? Multiple studies have shown that political conservatives—e.g., Fox viewers--tend to have a higher need for closure. Indeed, this includes a group called right-wing authoritarians, who are increasingly prevalent in the Republican Party. This suggests they should also be more likely to select themselves into belief-affirming information streams, like Fox News or right-wing talk radio or the Drudge Report. Indeed, a number of research results support this idea.
In short, these so-called authoritarians need to see things in black and white, so they’re more likely to believe misinformation that turns complicated situations into cut-and-dry answers. For example, our economy is a complex system involving myriad factors, but it’s easier to say that all hard-working people succeed and all lazy people fail, so tell that to someone in need of closure and they’ll probably believe it.
Mooney also accuses Fox News of actively misleading its viewership. He provides a lot of support for his arguments – see the full article for more – but it’s nothing that is going to change any Fox News viewer’s perception of the channel. This is quite the pickle. Does Fox News really trick its viewers with misinformation, or are conservatives just looking for a channel that tells them what they want to hear? I tend to lean toward the latter. Fox News is kind of like those QuestChat phone lines that advertise on cable at 2AM. The people watching aren’t stupid. Deep down, they know that global warming isn’t really a conspiracy and that the girls on the chat line don’t really look like the ones in the commercial. But once in awhile they just want someone to talk dirty to them.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @thefaketomz
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