Bozell Column: Fox News Makes You Stupid?

There is nothing the Left believes in more robotically than the stupidity of conservatives. Otherwise, they would not be conservatives. When liberals get routed in an election, they do not question themselves. The first, and for most, only verdict is that the American people were disastrously flooded by a tsunami of stupidity and misinformation.

So it’s not surprising that left-wing bloggers would rejoice when they can write the headline “New Study Proves That Fox News Makes You Stupid.” That’s the Daily Kos headline. According to them, Fox News is “deliberately misinforming their viewers” to help Republicans, who “benefited from the ignorance Fox News helped to proliferate,” as voters “based their decisions on demonstrably false information.”

The liberal pranksters masquerading as pollsters at the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) are at it again. In a new survey, they claim that those who watched Fox News Channel on a daily basis were significantly more likely to believe in “misinformation.” But how is that word defined? Look at the details and you will be floored by the misinformation – coming from the pollsters themselves.

Here’s Exhibit A: Fox viewers were more likely to believe “Among economists who have estimated the effect of the health reform law on the federal budget deficit over the next ten years, more think it will increase the deficit.”

That is misinformation? This question is not about facts at all. It’s about the opinions of economists looking into a crystal ball, and PIPA’s “economists” estimate that herding 35 million uninsured Americans into a new federal entitlement program is going to reduce the deficit. This assertion by liberals that ObamaCare would cut deficits isn’t technically a “lie” -- yet. It is merely a patently ridiculous claim that doesn’t acknowledge the real world.. But somehow, Fox News viewers are tagged as the “misinformed” dummies, because their opinions are grounded in logic.

Here’s Exhibit B: Fox viewers were more likely to believe “Most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation saved or created a few jobs or caused job losses.” Once again, this isn’t about facts, but about economists and their estimation. The idea that there is “misinformation” afoot, and it’s not about the incredibly nebulous and politicized notion of “saving or creating” jobs – something so nebulous it can never be factually verified – shows you the bias of the PIPA pollsters.

Let’s go all the way back to the drawing board on this poll. Is it fair – whether the pollsters are liberals or conservatives – to expect the American people to identify correctly the estimates made by a panel of economists organized by news editors of The Wall Street Journal? In a random polling sample, how many memorizing Journal subscribers are you going to find?

There is a more serious polling problem here for PIPA. The poll was done from November 6 to 15, 2010 with a sample size of 848 respondents, for a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Given that an average primetime audience of Fox News is 2.2 million out of a nation of more than 300 million people, that's 0.7 percent. Out of 848 poll respondents, 0.7 percent would give us total of about six Fox viewers. In their own polling breakdown, PIPA says 17 percent said they were almost-daily Fox viewers, or about 145 people. Even that is simply not high enough to test in a serious poll.

That is why this survey wasn’t food for the national media, but scraps left for craven bloggers who know nothing about facts and care less about the truth.

Almost every piece of “misinformation” the PIPA people floated to measure how conservatives misunderstood Obama involved blatant spinning about Obama’s role in the auto bailout, or the TARP program, or how the “stimulus” included tax cuts, or even Obama’s birth certificate.

They’re not alone in trying to nail Fox. In August of 2009, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll reported 72 percent of self-identified Fox News viewers believed the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79 percent believed it will lead to a government takeover, 69 percent thought it would use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75 percent believed that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly.

Sadly for NBC, this “misinformation” is already coming true: on Christmas, the New York Times reported “death panels” are back in the ObamaCare regulations, and we knew by mid-summer that states were funding abortions through ObamaCare.

These polls identify the real liberal fear: that someone will trust Fox News to tell them things the liberal media try to crush and bury.

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center