Media Matters Uses Incomplete Quote, Weak Survey To Bash Fox News


David Frum on CNN’s Reliable Sources: “People Who Watch A Lot Of Fox Come Away Knowing A Lot Less”

Media Matters touts the sensational headline above without a video link, embed, or download of the source material in any way. Not only is the quote inaccurate because it’s incomplete, but it likely stems from a weak survey first pushed by MMfA. They also neglect to inform their readers that Howard Kurtz called out Frum for his reckless statement in this very segment of “Reliable Sources.” This is how propaganda is made, thus making MMfA gulity of the very charge it dishonestly levels at Fox News.

NewsBusters has the complete video with a transcript. It’s also worth a closer look, as the “world events” could easily involve Egypt and Syria because of a previous survey also pushed by MMfA. In essence, Frum may have regurgitated some earlier MMfA propaganda, which they then recycled yet one more time, creating a disingenuous feedback loop purely to bash Fox News. More importantly, Frum was being just as critical of liberal outlets such as MMfA, and Kurtz admits that media outlets are, indeed, biased toward the left. Media Matters simply omitted that, as it isn’t what they wanted their readers to know. [my emphasis]

Frum: “people who watch a lot of Fox come away knowing a lot less about important world events.”

FRUM: You need to create conflict and you need to create a sense of embattlement. And you need to create a sense that we, this network, are your only reliable friends.

KURTZ: And liberal outlets don’t do that?

FRUM: Liberal outlets have historically not done that, because liberal outlets until recently didn’t know that they were liberal outlets.

KURTZ: They were operating under a false – false self-portrait. But look –

FRUM: But this will come. This is a general poison that is happening to American culture and American media. Yes, the liberals are now catching up with results as bad. And if I were a liberal, I would be writing about their problems and worrying about them. But I worry about my team.

MMfA previously pushed this survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University and an FM radio station. There may be a reason some in NJ refer to it as Fairly Ridiculous University given this highlighted statement. Unless one was interviewing people who watch no news but have recently traveled to both Egypt and Syria, the notion that non-news-watchers would somehow be more informed on events in those countries is implausible, at best.

For example, people who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hour cable news networks, are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all….. Fox News watchers are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news.

Another way to frame that would be to say some people simply choose not to follow international news that closely. That does not mean they don’t have a clear view, or opinion, on matters of foreign policy. Assuming that’s the case, it would be foolish for Fox to focus too much upon it. If they did that, their ratings would likely be as low as some others cable outlets.

The reason above reveals a market driven philosophy when it comes to news reporting, not deliberate disinformation. But that’s not good enough for the boys at MMfA. In its staff’s world view, one must focus on what they deem as important or risk being portrayed as dumb. But MMfA doesn’t really care about that; it’s simply looking for anything it can find, or make up, to bash Fox News.

Reading through the survey, which claims a 3.5 MoE based upon 612 adults, the subgroups are so small as to render that number meaningless. They spoke to just 64 people who received some of their news from Fox and as few as 18 who listened to NPR. MMfA also fails to call out MSNBC for misleading viewers when it came to the Occupy movement. Nor do they address the notion that most people rely upon multiple sources for news, making any hard judgments all but impossible to make.

New Jerseyans are not necessarily more likely to be knowledgeable about domestic politics than international events. Just 47% are able to identify the Occupy Wall Street protesters as predominantly Democratic: 11 % think they are Republicans. Viewers of cable news on MSNBC are the most likely to think the protestors are Republicans. Watching the left-leaning MSNBC news channel is associated with a 10-point increase in the likelihood of misidentifying the protesters.

In the final analysis, what it looks like actually happened is that FDU and an FM radio station asked questions prioritized based upon a more globalist, possibly liberal world view, then found that those who rely on more liberal media outlets tended to line up with that view, more so perhaps than do viewers of Fox News.

Frankly, if infrequently cited NPR took a page from Fox News, taxpayers wouldn’t have to subsidize a lot of low-value, low-rated content few Americans are interested in hearing about and do not require to live productive, contented, and more than reasonably well-informed lives. Were it up to MMfA, liberal government-run outlets such as NPR would likely be all that were left for anyone to watch or listen to.


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