A new study by Brookings suggests, not surprisingly, that Fox News viewers tend to be awfully conservative.
While some are taking the study as evidence that Fox News warps minds, I suspect it’s just as possible that warped minds tend to migrate to Fox News. In fact, I suspect it’s a mix of the two.
The study was mostly looking at attitudes regarding immigration reform. And not surprisingly, it found that Fox News’ audience tends not to be terribly supportive of the concept.
“Only 42% of Republicans who most trust Fox News to provide accurate information about politics and current events support a path to citizenship, compared to 60% of Republicans who most trust other news sources,” Brookings reported.
As Eric Levenson at Yahoo discovered, the polling also delved more widely than just immigration reform, and again not surprisingly, found that Fox News Republicans were more conservative than other Republicans on a wide swath of issues.
From the Brookings study:
The Fox difference is visible across a broad range of other issues, as illustrated by Figure 12. Among Fox News Republicans, 60% say reducing the budget deficit should be among the highest priorities, compared with 46% of other Republicans. Fox News Republicans are far more forceful in their opposition to same-sex marriage: 76% are opposed to same-sex marriage, including 47% who say they are strongly opposed. Among non-Fox Republicans, only 57% oppose same-sex marriage, and only 31% strongly oppose it. One of the starkest differences between the two Republican groups came on the minimum wage. Fox News Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by a margin of 64% to 33%. But non-Fox Republicans favor the wage increase, 56% to 41%.
It’s clear the Republican party is split into a number of factions. At it broadest, I see two initial groups: uber-conservatives, and middle of the road Republicans.
The ubers tend to be Fox News aficionados, lean Tea Party, question the President’s citizenship, and probably aren’t the immigrant’s best friend.
The middle of the roaders, while not perhaps especially fond of the President, and iffy on Democratic proposals on immigration, probably don’t feel much of a connection with either the Tea Party, the religious right, Ted Cruz, or much of the national leadership of the GOP.
The problem, of course, is that among the right and the left, the more vocal (less sane, more dogmatic, and less beholden to facts or truth) fringe is taking over, if only because they have the loudest voices. Moderates have a prediliction to moderation, be they on the right or left. And somber reflection usually doesn’t beat metaphorical bombshells in the news cycle, or on Twitter.The survey also looks at “Fox Independents,” and I’m not entirely convinced that it’s polling true independents, rather than conservatives who for, whatever reason, are unhappy calling themselves “Republicans.” That doesn’t make them true independents, and it doesn’t mean they’ll ever consider voting for a Democrat or a Democratic proposal.
In the end, it’s difficult to know if this survey shows a “Fox effect,” or simply an affection for Fox among the GOP’s far right. Thought, regardless of the temperament of the conservatives who watch Fox News, there is the problem of Fox News’ content, which isn’t always entirely accurate.
As I’ve noted before, there’s a danger to Republicans themselves, in falling for Fox News’ misinformation. Skewed news based on skewed polls can lead to skewed election results, and scr*wed candidates. If Fox is telling you that the Democrats are falling apart at the seams, and the polls are really on your side, you might start focusing your political attentions on the wrong issue and the wrong voters. Mitt Romney found that out the hard way what happens when you let yourself be a skewed pol.
This is a classic Jon Stewart, showing Fox News talking about the impending Romney landslide, and Karl Rove’s refusal to admit that Ohio, and the 2012 election, was lost.
Though even Fox New is sometimes forced to admit the truth: