Thursday, November 24, 2011

FDU Poll: Fox News Makes You Stupid (Ignore Our Margin Of Error)

via Big Journalism by Evan Pokroy on 11/24/11

It's Thursday. You know what that means don't you? Another university "study" that proves that viewers of Fox News are uninformed boobs. This time it's out of Farleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey. Their shocking claim is "watching Fox News makes you less informed than watching nothing at all."

Their telephone poll of 612 New Jersey adults purportedly shows that the Fox News watching people don't know the right answer to a few questions the pollsters asked. That is to say, the right answers according to the pollsters.
The first question is about Egypt and whether or not the protests have been successful in bringing down the regime there. The expected answer is, of course, yes. Only 49% of FNC watchers responded "correctly" while 68% of NPR listeners did.
So, did the protesters in Tahrir Square bring down the regime? I guess that depends on how you define "the regime." Following three weeks of protests, President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down and his National Democratic Party (NDP) was dissolved. It was at this point that the Armed Forces of Egypt officially took control. So, why is this ambiguous in any way? Well, Mubarak and the entire upper echelon of the NDP were military. As a matter of fact, the Egyptian military have been the de facto rulers of Egypt since the military coup of 1952 that ousted King Farouk and ushered in the Nassar regime. So, the only real change in Egypt was cosmetic.
In addition, it wouldn't be too far off to say that, of all the coverage of the "Arab Spring," one of the few news outlets that was not reflexively cheerleading it was Fox News. Outside of the first few days of heady enthusiasm, where it all appeared to be a spontaneous push for freedom and democracy, it has become clear that many of the Arab nations that have removed their previous autocratic leaders have not been moving in a positive direction. There is a troubling move from Communist/Socialist autocrats towards Islamist autocrats. Needless to say, there has been no real change in the leadership of Egypt with the exception of getting rid of Hosni Mubarak.
The second question was whether or not the opposition in Syria has been able to bring down the regime there.  Amongst those giving the wrong answer, there was no statistical difference. All people answering, grouped by primary news source, came within 4% of each other. When the reported margin of error is 3.5%, you have no real grounds making claims that one group is getting it wrong. That is, unless you're now looking not at who answered incorrectly, but at who answered that he didn't know. The coverage of what has been going on in Syria has been spotty at best. For someone to answer that they don't know is not an incorrect answer, it just means that they admit to not being having an informed opinion.

The final question on the poll was about the makeup of the Occupy X protestors. Respondents were asked if the "occupiers" were more likely to be Democrats or Republicans. MSNBC watchers were more likely to say that the protestors were Republicans and less likely to say they were Democrats. Fox News watchers and CNN watchers were pretty much even. Granted, most of the results of this question are also within the margin of error, with the exception of "Daily Show" and NPR viewers, who overwhelming see the Occupy folks as Democrats and not Republicans. This is probably due to the fact that Stewart and NPR have been cheerleading these people from day one.  It is surprising that MSNBC viewers did so poorly here, considering the activist roll some MSNBC hosts have been playing in the Obamaville protests.
Needless to say, while the poll is interesting, the analysis is completely specious. It tosses away the left's favorite word when dealing with foreign relations, nuance. The only question, of the three main topics, that it could be say that FNC viewers might be misinformed does not take the possibility that there may be more than one correct answer in to account. Nor does it take into account the facts on the ground.
The fine folks at Farleigh-Dickinson should work more on bettering the 1-9 record of their football team and less time trying to bash Fox News viewers. It would probably stand them in better stead.

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