There's a fascinating, and rather devastating, new University of Maryland study out there, detailing how misinformed voters were in the last election. Some issues of fact were pretty straightforward: the 2009 stimulus, for examle, was about one-third tax cuts; Obama was born in the US; the recovery had been underway for a while, if anemically; the auto bailout and TARP began under Bush. And yet large numbers of voters believed the opposite and acted on that false knowledge.
The primary fault is with the appalling failure of the Democrats and Obama to comunicate the truth about what they'd done. But what's interesting in the study is how it shows that Fox News, more than any other source, distorted the truth and created a false reality, for all its viewers, Democrats and Republicans. Money finding (I've focused on indisputable factual errors):
Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that:
most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely)
the economy is getting worse (26 points)
the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points)
their own income taxes have gone up (14 points)
the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points)
when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points)
and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points)
Let's be clear about this. One alleged news network fed its audience a diet of lies, while contributing financially to the party that benefited from those lies.
Those who work for Fox News are not working for a journalistic enterprise. They are working for the communications department of a political party. And that's a fact.
(Photo: Roger Ailes by Frederick M Brown.)