Yes, people who watch john stewart and think it's a legit news show that relays FACTS are fucking morons...case closed.
Jon Stewart says those who watch Fox News are the "most consistently misinformed media viewers"
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EDITOR'S NOTE: On the June 21, 2011, edition of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart accepted our False verdict and apologized, saying, "I defer to (PolitiFact's) judgment and apologize for my mistake. To not do so would be irresponsible."
On the June 19, 2011, edition of Fox News Sunday, comedian Jon Stewart -- host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central -- sat down for an interview with Chris Wallace. Many readers asked us to review one of his claims.
"Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers?" Stewart
asked Wallace. "The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers,
consistently, every poll."
Wallace didn’t challenge Stewart’s assertion that Fox -- widely
perceived as a conservative-leaning network -- produced more misinformed
viewers. But we thought it was an assessment worth checking.
We found two polling organizations that have produced periodic
"knowledge" surveys differentiated by the respondent’s frequent news
sources. One is the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press,
and the other is worldpublicopinion.org, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.
Let’s start with Pew’s findings.
Pew periodically studies media usage and public knowledge. They ask
whether a respondent is a "regular" reader, viewer or listener of major
print, television, radio and Internet news sources, and they ask a
series of basic factual questions about news and public affairs to gauge
how well-informed the respondent is.
After conferring with Pew researchers, we found three surveys since
2007 that shed some light on how informed Fox viewers are compared to
consumers of other media. Here they are:
• February 2007 Political Knowledge Survey. Pew asked respondents
23 questions, such as who the vice president is, who the president of
Russia is, whether the Chief Justice is conservative, which party
controls the U.S. House of Representatives and whether the U.S. has a
trade deficit. The ability to answer 15 of these questions correctly
earned the respondent a place in the "high knowledge" category.
Pew then categorized various media sources by the percentage of their
followers who earned a high knowledge rating. The media outlets fell
into three categories -- those that had 50 to 54 percent in the high
knowledge group, those that had 40 to 49 percent in the high knowledge
group, and those that had 34 to 39 percent in the high knowledge group.
In descending order, the 50-to-54 percent group included The Daily Show and its Comedy Central cousin, The Colbert Report; major newspaper websites; the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer; Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor; National Public Radio; and Rush Limbaugh’s syndicated radio talk show.
The 40-to-49 percent category included national newsmagazines;
television news websites; local daily newspapers; Internet news sources
like Yahoo and Google; and CNN.
Finally, the 34-to-39 percent group included the network evening news
shows; online news discussion blogs; Fox News Channel; local television
news; and the network morning shows.
Now, let’s analyze the data.
Fox isn’t last on the list, although it’s close -- 35 percent of Fox
viewers earned a high knowledge rating, which was tied with local
television news and was one point ahead of the network morning shows.
However, Fox’s 35 percent score places it exactly at the national
average. This seems paradoxical -- Fox ranks near the bottom of a long
list of media outlets, yet it sits right at the national average. But
there’s an explanation. Lots of respondents reported following none of
the media outlets they were asked about, and those respondents did quite
poorly on the knowledge quiz -- not surprisingly. That meant that the
non-media-using respondents brought down the national average, but they
didn’t constitute a separate category that ranked lower than Fox on
Since Stewart was referring to "media viewers," this doesn’t undercut
his point. However, the data includes an important counterpoint to
Stewart’s claim: Viewers of at least one show on Fox scored quite well
-- The O’Reilly Factor, of whom 51 percent made it into the
high knowledge group. That made it equal to National Public Radio -- a
longtime target of conservative complaints about liberal media bias --
and only three percentage points behind Stewart’s own show, at 54
• April 2008 Media Survey. Compared to the 2007 survey, the 2008 survey
looked at a wider variety of media outlets but used a narrower
selection of questions designed to test the respondent’s current-affairs
knowledge. The pollsters asked three questions: "Do you happen to know
which political party has a majority in the U.S. House of
Representatives?" "Can you tell me the name of the current U.S.
Secretary of State?" And "who is the current prime minister of Great
Britain?" Anyone who went three-for-three earned the high knowledge
Here, the range of results was much wider. Once again, Fox News was
just about at the national average -- 19 percent of Fox viewers scored
in the high knowledge category, compared to 18 percent of all
respondents -- but this time a handful of news outlets scored lower than
Fox did. With scores ranging from 17 percent all the way down to 9
percent, they were CNBC, local television news, network news, morning
news shows, television newsmagazines, personality magazines, religious
radio, the Weather Channel, CBS News, Access Hollywood and similar
shows, and in last place, the National Enquirer.
And once again, particular Fox shows scored well above the average. Hannity & Colmes was one of only four choices to exceed 40 percent -- the others were the New Yorker/the Atlantic, NPR and MSNBC’s Hardball -- while The O’Reilly Factor scored 28 percent, or 10 points above the national average. (Hannity & Colmes even exceeded Stewart’s Daily Show in this poll, 42 percent to 30 percent.)
In all, this poll undercuts Stewart’s position even more than the 2007 poll did.
• June 2010 Media Consumption Survey. For 2010,
respondents were asked four questions -- which party controlled the
House of Representatives, what post was held by Eric Holder, which
company was run by Steve Jobs and which country has an active volcano
that had recently disrupted international air travel. This time, Pew
didn’t specifically use a "high knowledge" measurement but rather broke
down responses by how many were answered correctly by each media
Once again, Fox News as a whole ranked fairly low among regularly used
media outlets -- 20 percent answered all four correctly and 18 percent
answered three correctly. Still, those numbers beat the national average
of 14 percent and 20 percent, respectively. (The best-scoring outlet,
the Wall Street Journal, posted scores of 51 percent and 23 percent,
Fox actually scored better than its two direct cable-news rivals --
MSNBC, which is a liberal counterpoint to Fox, and CNN, which is
considered more middle-of-the-road. Also scoring lower than Fox were
local television news, the evening network news shows and the network
And for the third time, particular Fox shows scored well. Hannity
ranked fifth (just ahead of MSNBC’s liberal shows hosted by Keith
Olbermann and Rachel Maddow) and O’Reilly ranked ninth. For the first
time, Pew included Glenn Beck in its rankings, and the Fox host finished
12th -- slightly ahead of Stewart’s own Daily Show.
We asked Michael Dimock, Pew’s associate director for research, what he
thought Pew’s data meant for Stewart’s claim. He said it’s crucial to
understand that different news sources appeal to different types of
people -- and that highly political programming of any type attracts
regular readers and viewers "who are, most likely, already highly
knowledgeable prior to their exposure to those particular sources.
Separating what knowledge they bring with them from what they learn
while reading or watching is virtually impossible."
By contrast, Dimock said, for media outlets with a much broader reach
-- including Fox -- "the average regular consumer of these sources is
less informed than the more niche audiences, because these sources, by
design, reach and appeal to a broader cross-section of the public. In
most of our studies, the regular readers and viewers of these
broad-based news sources are not significantly more or less informed
than the average American, and there is no systematic pattern showing
one broad-based source has a more knowledgeable audience than any
Pew’s methodology is not immune from critique. Most notably, it’s not
clear whether knowing the answer to a few current-affairs questions
translates into being "informed." However, the experts we spoke to said
that Pew is an unbiased source and that its data is credible.
Given that, we conclude that the Pew data demonstrates that the reality
of who’s "misinformed" is a lot more nuanced than Stewart makes it out
Now let’s turn to the studies by worldpublicopinion.org. We found two studies by the group that tracked current-affairs knowledge.
• "Misperceptions, The Media and The Iraq War" study, 2003. This study
focused on the Iraq War and the lead-up to it. It asked three
questions: "Is it your impression that the U.S. has or has not found
clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the
al-Qaida terrorist organization?" "Since the war with Iraq ended, is it
your impression that the US has or has not found Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction?" And whether, "The majority of people favor the US having
gone to war."
On these questions, Fox clearly did the worst among the major news
outlets. The "misperception rate" for Fox was 45 percent. The highest
for other news outlets was CBS News at 36 percent; those with lower
"misperception rates" included CNN, ABC, NBC, the print media and
NPR/PBS, which was lowest at 11 percent.
This study is probably the strongest support we found for Stewart’s
claim, in part because the difference between Fox and the other news
outlets was so stark, and in part because the questions asked have
pretty clear-cut "right" and "wrong" answers.
• Misinformation and the 2010 Election, 2010. This study
inspired some of the most intense response of any we looked at. For
instance, the liberal blog Daily Kos trumpeted the study with the
headline, "CONFIRMED: New Study Proves That Fox News Makes You Stupid." But it’s also the study that prompted the fiercest counterattack on methodological grounds.
The study asked 10 questions. Some are fairly cut and dried -- which
president signed the TARP law to bail out Wall Street (Bush), which
implemented the automaker bailout (both Bush and Obama), whether the
stimulus bill included tax cuts (it did),and whether Barack Obama was
born in the United States (he was).
But a few were in a bit grayer area, often asking respondents to gauge what experts have concluded about policy trends.
One was, "Is it your impression that most economists who have studied
it estimate that the stimulus has created (a) saved or created several
million jobs, (b) saved or created a few jobs, or (c) caused job
Another was, "Is it your impression that economists who have estimated
the effect of the health reform law on the federal budget deficit over
the next 10 years, (a) more think it will not increase the deficit, (b)
views are evenly divided, or (c) more think it will increase the
The Baltimore Sun’s television critic, David Zurawik, wrote a column shortly after the study appeared, expressing skepticism about the study.
Zurawik wrote, "what you have for the definition of a respondent who is
considered ‘informed’ is essentially someone who agrees with the
conclusions of experts in government agencies. When specific questions
in the survey are framed around facts, like who was president when a
certain piece of legislation passed, you can say someone is
misinformed." But that’s not the case with some of this survey’s
One question from the study that struck us as one that ordinary
Americans might answer differently than economists asked, "Do you think
now that the American economy is (a) starting to recover, or (b) still
getting worse?" The study based the "correct" answer -- that the economy
has begun to recover -- on the widely accepted judgment of when the
last recession ended, as well as gross domestic product estimates and
statistics for personal income. However, given the phrasing of the
question, a respondent might think the question was asking for a
personal opinion of how the recovery was going, rather than what the
official statistics say.
In a note, the study’s authors acknowledged such concerns, but defended
their approach. "When dealing with topics that have been highly
politicized, it is common to default to the position that all
perceptions are relative and treatment of any position as more or less
true is itself inherently political," the study says. "We believe that
such a position is at odds with what is necessary for well-functioning
We should note that like this study, PolitiFact often uses the
Congressional Budget Office and the Medicare trustees as credible
sources, and we often query experts to come up with our rulings. We
think there’s a difference between bestowing a False rating on an
elected official -- whose job it is to know about public policy -- and
calling an ordinary American "misinformed" for getting the exact same
question "wrong." At the very least, these questions seem less clear-cut
than asking who the vice president is.
For this reason, we believe that this study should carry less weight in analyzing Stewart’s comment.
So we have three Pew studies that superficially rank Fox viewers low on
the well-informed list, but in several of the surveys, Fox isn’t the
lowest, and other general-interest media outlets -- such as network news
shows, network morning shows and even the other cable news networks --
often score similarly low. Meanwhile, particular Fox shows -- such as The O’Reilly Factor and Sean Hannity’s show -- actually score consistently well, occasionally even outpacing Stewart’s own audience.
Meanwhile, the other set of knowledge surveys, from worldpublicopinion.org,
offer mixed support for Stewart. The 2003 survey strikes us as pretty
solid, but the 2010 survey has been critiqued for its methodology.
The way Stewart phrased the comment, it’s not enough to show a sliver
of evidence that Fox News’ audience is ill-informed. The evidence needs
to support the view that the data shows they are "consistently"
misinformed -- a term he used not once but three times. It’s simply not
true that "every poll" shows that result. So we rate his claim False.
By: Fullon Tard
Tags: lol, liberals, stupid, sheep, john stewart, cnn, msnbc, abc, cbs. nbc, msnbc. liberal, drooler, propaganda, fox news more informed, better informed, facts vs fiction,
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