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Excerpt: "My goal here is to explore the underlying causes for this 'Fox News effect' - explaining how this station has brought about a hurricane-like intensification of factual error, misinformation and unsupportable but ideologically charged beliefs on the conservative side of the aisle."

Jon Stewart was correct in saying that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed. (photo: AtlanticWire)
Jon Stewart was correct in saying that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed. (photo: AtlanticWire)



Why Fox News Viewers Are Misinformed

By Chris Mooney, AlterNet

10 April 12

 

n June of last year, Jon Stewart went on air with Fox News' Chris Wallace and started a major media controversy over the channel's misinforming of its viewers. "Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers?" Stewart asked Wallace. "The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll."

Stewart's statement was factually accurate, as we'll see. The next day, however, the fact-checking site PolitiFact weighed in and rated it "false." In claiming to check Stewart's "facts," PolitiFact ironically committed a serious error - and later, doubly ironically, failed to correct it. How's that for the power of fact checking?

There probably is a small group of media consumers out there somewhere in the world who are more misinformed, overall, than Fox News viewers. But if you only consider mainstream U.S. television news outlets with major audiences (e.g., numbering in the millions), it really is true that Fox viewers are the most misled based on all the available evidence - especially in areas of political controversy. This will come as little surprise to liberals, perhaps, but the evidence for it - evidence in Stewart's favor - is pretty overwhelming.

My goal here is to explore the underlying causes for this "Fox News effect" - explaining how this station has brought about a hurricane-like intensification of factual error, misinformation and unsupportable but ideologically charged beliefs on the conservative side of the aisle. First, though, let's begin by surveying the evidence about how misinformed Fox viewers actually are.

Based upon my research, I have located seven separate studies that support Stewart's claim about Fox, and none that undermine it. Six of these studies were available at the time that PolitFact took on Stewart; one of them is newer.

The studies all take a similar form: These are public opinion surveys that ask citizens about their beliefs on factual but contested issues, and also about their media habits. Inevitably, some significant percentage of citizens are found to be misinformed about the facts, and in a politicized way - but not only that. The surveys also find that those who watch Fox are more likely to be misinformed, their views of reality skewed in a right-wing direction. In some cases, the studies even show that watching more Fox makes the misinformation problem worse.

So with that, here are the studies.

Iraq War

In 2003, a survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland found widespread public misperceptions about the Iraq war. For instance, many Americans believed the U.S. had evidence that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had been collaborating in some way with Al Qaeda, or was involved in the 9-11 attacks; many also believed that the much touted "weapons of mass destruction" had been found in the country after the U.S. invasion, when they hadn't. But not everyone was equally misinformed: "The extent of Americans' misperceptions vary significantly depending on their source of news," PIPA reported. "Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions." For instance, 80 percent of Fox viewers held at least one of three Iraq-related misperceptions, more than a variety of other types of news consumers, and especially NPR and PBS users. Most strikingly, Fox watchers who paid more attention to the channel were more likely to be misled.

Global Warming

At least two studies have documented that Fox News viewers are more misinformed about this subject.

In a late 2010 survey, Stanford University political scientist Jon Krosnick and visiting scholar Bo MacInnis found that "more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists' claims about global warming, with less trust in scientists, and with more belief that ameliorating global warming would hurt the U.S. economy." Frequent Fox viewers were less likely to say the Earth's temperature has been rising and less likely to attribute this temperature increase to human activities. In fact, there was a 25 percentage point gap between the most frequent Fox News watchers (60%) and those who watch no Fox News (85%) in whether they think global warming is "caused mostly by things people do or about equally by things people do and natural causes."

In a much more comprehensive study released in late 2011 (too late for Stewart or for PolitiFact), American University communications scholar Lauren Feldman and her colleagues reported on their analysis of a 2008 national survey, which found that "Fox News viewing manifests a significant, negative association with global warming acceptance." Viewers of the station were less likely to agree that "most scientists think global warming is happening" and less likely to think global warming is mostly caused by human activities, among other measures.

Health Care

In 2009, an NBC survey found "rampant misinformation" about the healthcare reform bill before Congress - derided on the right as "Obamacare." It also found that Fox News viewers were much more likely to believe this misinformation than average members of the general public. "72% of self-identified Fox News viewers believe the healthcare plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly," the survey found.

By contrast, among CNN and MSNBC viewers, only 41 percent believed the illegal immigrant falsehood, 39 percent believed in the threat of a "government takeover" of healthcare (40 percentage points less), 40 percent believed the falsehood about abortion, and 30 percent believed the falsehood about "death panels" (a 45 percent difference!).

In early 2011, the Kaiser Family Foundation released another survey on public misperceptions about healthcare reform. The poll asked 10 questions about the newly passed healthcare law and compared the "high scorers" - those that answered 7 or more correct - based on their media habits. The result was that "higher shares of those who report CNN (35 percent) or MSNBC (39 percent) as their primary news source [got] 7 or more right, compared to those that report mainly watching Fox News (25 percent)."

"Ground Zero Mosque"

In late 2010, two scholars at the Ohio State University studied public misperceptions about the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" - and in particular, the prevalence of a series of rumors depicting those seeking to build this Islamic community center and mosque as terrorist sympathizers, anti-American, and so on. All of these rumors had, of course, been dutifully debunked by fact-checking organizations. The result? "People who use Fox News believe more of the rumors we asked about and they believe them more strongly than those who do not."

The 2010 Election

In late 2010, the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) once again singled out Fox in a survey about misinformation during the 2010 election. Out of 11 false claims studied in the survey, PIPA found that "almost daily" Fox News viewers were "significantly more likely than those who never watched it" to believe 9 of them, including the misperceptions that "most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring" (they do), that "it is not clear that President Obama was born in the United States" (he was), that "most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses" (it either saved or created several million), that "most economists have estimated the healthcare law will worsen the deficit" (they have not), and so on.

It is important to note that in this study - by far the most critiqued of the bunch - the examples of misinformation studied were all closely related to prominent issues in the 2010 midterm election, and indeed, were selected precisely because they involved issues that voters said were of greatest importance to them, like healthcare and the economy. That was the main criterion for inclusion, explains PIPA senior research scholar Clay Ramsay. "People said, here's how I would rank that as an influence on my vote," says Ramsay, "so everything tested is at least a 5 on a zero-to-10 scale."

Politifact Swings and Misses

In attempting to fact-check Jon Stewart on the subject of Fox News and misinformation, PolitiFact simply appeared out of its depth. The author of the article in question, Louis Jacobson, only cited two of the studies above--"Iraq War" and "2010 Election" - though six out of seven were available at the time he was writing. And then he suggested that the "2010 Election" study should "carry less weight" due to various methodological objections.

Meanwhile, Jacobson dug up three separate studies that we can dismiss as irrelevant. That's because these studies did not concern misinformation, but rather, how informed news viewers are about basic political facts like the following: "who the vice president is, who the president of Russia is, whether the Chief Justice is conservative, which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives and whether the U.S. has a trade deficit."

A long list of public opinion studies have shown that too few Americans know the answers to such basic questions. That's lamentable, but also off point at the moment. These are not politically contested issues, nor are they skewed by an active misinformation campaign. As a result, on such issues many Americans may be ill-informed but liberals and conservatives are nevertheless able to agree.

Jon Stewart was clearly talking about political misinformation. He used the word "misinformed." And for good reason: Misinformation is by far the bigger torpedo to our national conversation, and to any hope of a functional politics. "It's one thing to be not informed," explains David Barker, a political scientist at the University of Pittsburgh who has studied conservative talk-radio listeners and Fox viewers. "It's another thing to be misinformed, where you're confident in your incorrectness. That's the thing that's really more problematic, democratically speaking - because if you're confidently wrong, you're influencing people."

Thus PolitiFact's approach was itself deeply uninformed, and underscores just how poorly our mainstream political discourse deals with the problem of systematic right wing misinformation.

Fox and the Republican Brain

The evidence is clear, then - the Politifact-Stewart flap notwithstanding, Fox viewers are the most misinformed. But then comes the truly interesting and important question: Why is that the case?

To answer it, we'll first need to travel back to the 1950s, and the pioneering work of the Stanford psychologist and cult infiltrator, Leon Festinger.

In his 1957 book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Festinger built on his famous study of a doomsday cult called the Seekers, and other research, to lay out many ramifications of his core idea about why human beings contort the evidence to fit their beliefs, rather than conforming those beliefs to the evidence. That included a prediction about how those who are highly committed to a belief or view should go about seeking information that touches on that powerful conviction.

Festinger suggested that once we've settled on a core belief, this ought to shape how we gather information. More specifically, we are likely to try to avoid encountering claims and information that challenge that belief, because these will create cognitive dissonance. Instead, we should go looking for information that affirms the belief. The technical (and less than ideal) term for this phenomenon is "selective exposure": what it means is that we selectively choose to be exposed to information that is congenial to our beliefs, and to avoid "inconvenient truths" that are uncongenial to them.

If Festinger's ideas about "selective exposure" are correct, then the problem with Fox News may not solely be that it is actively causing its viewers to be misinformed. It's very possible that Fox could be imparting misinformation even as politically conservative viewers are also seeking the station out - highly open to it and already convinced about many falsehoods that dovetail with their beliefs. Thus, they would come into the encounter with Fox not only misinformed and predisposed to become more so, but inclined to be very confident about their incorrect beliefs and to impart them to others. In this account, political misinformation on the right would be driven by a kind of feedback loop, with both Fox and its viewers making the problem worse.

Psychologists and political scientists have extensively studied selective exposure, and within the research literature, the findings are often described as mixed. But that's not quite right. In truth, some early studies seeking to confirm Festinger's speculation had problems with their designs and often failed - and as a result, explains University of Alabama psychologist William Hart, the field of selective exposure research "stagnated" for several decades. But it has since undergone a dramatic revival - driven, not surprisingly, by the modern explosion of media choices and growing political polarization in the U.S. And thanks to a new wave of better-designed and more rigorous studies, the concept has become well established.

"Selective exposure is the clearest way to look at how people create their own realities, based upon their views of the world," says Hart. "Everybody knows this happens."

Indeed, by 2009, Hart and a team of researchers were able to perform a meta-analysis - a statistically rigorous overview of published studies on selective exposure - that pooled together 67 relevant studies, encompassing almost 8,000 individuals. As a result, he found that people overall were nearly twice as likely to consume ideologically congenial information as to consume ideologically inconvenient information - and in certain circumstances, they were even more likely than that.

When are people most likely to seek out self-affirming information? Hart found that they're most vulnerable to selective exposure if they have defensive goals - for instance, being highly committed to a preexisting view, and especially a view that is tied to a person's core values. Another defensive motivation identified in Hart's study was closed-mindedness, which makes a great deal of sense. It is probably part of the definition of being closed-minded, or dogmatic, that you prefer to consume information that agrees with what you already believe.

So who's closed-minded? Multiple studies have shown that political conservatives - e.g., Fox viewers--tend to have a higher need for closure. Indeed, this includes a group called right-wing authoritarians, who are increasingly prevalent in the Republican Party. This suggests they should also be more likely to select themselves into belief-affirming information streams, like Fox News or right-wing talk radio or the Drudge Report. Indeed, a number of research results support this idea.

In a study of selective exposure during the 2000 election, for instance, Stanford University's Shanto Iyengar and his colleagues mailed a multimedia informational CD about the two candidates - Bush and Gore - to 600 registered voters and then tracked its use by a sample of 220 of them. As a result, they found that Bush partisans chose to consume more information about Bush than about Gore - but Democrats and liberals didn't show the same bias toward their own candidate.

Selective exposure has also been directly tested several times in authoritarians. In one case, researchers at Stony Brook University primed more and less authoritarian subjects with thoughts of their own mortality. Afterwards, the authoritarians showed a much stronger preference than non-authoritarians for reading an article that supported their existing view on the death penalty, rather than an article presenting the opposing view or a "balanced" take on the issue. As the authors concluded: "highly authoritarian individuals, when threatened, attempt to reduce anxiety by selectively exposing themselves to attitude-validating information, which leads to ‘stronger' opinions that are more resistant to attitude change."

The psychologist Robert Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba has also documented an above average amount of selective exposure in right wing authoritarians. In one case, he gave students a fake self-esteem test, in which they randomly received either above average or below average scores. Then, everyone - the receivers of both low and high scores - was given the opportunity to say whether he or she would like to read a summary of why the test was valid. The result was striking: Students who scored low on authoritarianism wanted to learn about the validity of the test regardless of how they did on it. There was virtually no difference between high and low scorers. But among the authoritarian students, there was a big gap: 73 percent of those who got high self-esteem scores wanted to read about the test's validity, while only 47 percent of those who got low self-esteem scores did.

Authoritarians, Altemeyer concludes, "maintain their beliefs against challenges by limiting their experiences, and surrounding themselves with sources of information that will tell them they are right."

The evidence on selective exposure, as well as the clear links between closed-mindedness and authoritarianism, gives good grounds for believing that this phenomenon should be more common and more powerful on the political right. Lest we leap to the conclusion that Fox News is actively misinforming its viewers most of the time - rather than enabling them through its very existence - that's something to bear in mind.

Disinformation Passing as "News"

None of which is to suggest that Fox isn't also guilty of actively misinforming viewers. It certainly is.

The litany of misleading Fox segments and snippets is quite extensive - especially on global warming, where it seems that every winter snowstorm is an excuse for more doubt-mongering. No less than Fox's Washington managing editor Bill Sammon was found to have written, in a 2009 internal staff email exposed by MediaMatters, that the network's journalists should:

. . . refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

And global warming is hardly the only issue where Fox actively misinforms its viewers. The polling data here, from the Project on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) are very telling.

PIPA's study of misinformation in the 2010 election didn't just show that Fox News viewers were more misinformed than viewers of other channels. It also showed that watching more Fox made believing in nine separate political misperceptions more likely. And that was a unique effect, unlike any observed with the other news channels that were studied. "With all of the other media outlets, the more exposed you were, the less likely you were to have misinformation," explains PIPA's director, political psychologist Steven Kull. "While with Fox, the more exposure you had, in most cases, the more misinformation you had. And that is really, in a way, the most powerful factor, because it strongly suggests they were actually getting the information from Fox."

Indeed, this effect was even present in non-Republicans--another indicator that Fox is probably its cause. As Kull explains, "even if you're a liberal Democrat, you are affected by the station." If you watched Fox, you were more likely to believe the nine falsehoods, regardless of your political party affiliation.

In summary, then, the "science" of Fox News clearly shows that its viewers are more misinformed than the viewers of other stations, and are indeed this way for ideological reasons. But these are not necessarily the reasons that liberals may assume. Instead, the Fox "effect" probably occurs both because the station churns out falsehoods that conservatives readily accept - falsehoods that may even seem convincing to some liberals on occasion - but also because conservatives are overwhelmingly inclined to choose to watch Fox to begin with.

At the same time, it's important to note that they're also disinclined to watch anything else. Fox keeps constantly in their minds the idea that the rest of the media are "biased" against them, and conservatives duly respond by saying other media aren't worth watching - it's just a pack of lies. According to Public Policy Polling's annual TV News Trust Poll (the 2011 run), 72 percent of conservatives say they trust Fox News, but they also say they strongly distrust NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN. Liberals and moderates, in contrast, trust all of these outlets more than they distrust them (though they distrust Fox). This, too, suggests conservative selective exposure.

And there is an even more telling study of "Fox-only" behavior among conservatives, from Stanford's Shanto Iyengar and Kyu Hahn of Yonsei University, in Seoul, South Korea. They conducted a classic left-right selective exposure study, giving members of different ideological groups the chance to choose stories from a news stream that provided them with a headline and a news source logo - Fox, CNN, NPR, and the BBC - but nothing else. The experiment was manipulated so that the same headline and story was randomly attributed to different news sources. The result was that Democrats and liberals were definitely less inclined to choose Fox than other sources, but spread their interest across the other outlets when it came to news. But Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly chose Fox for hard news and even for soft news, and ignored other sources. "The probability that a Republican would select a CNN or NPR report was around 10%," wrote the authors.

In other words Fox News is both deceiver and enabler simultaneously. First, its existence creates the opportunity for conservatives to exercise their biases, by selecting into the Fox information stream, and also by imbibing Fox-style arguments and claims that can then fuel biased reasoning about politics, science, and whatever else comes up.

But at the same time, it's also likely that conservatives, tending to be more closed-minded and more authoritarian, have a stronger emotional need for an outlet like Fox, where they can find affirmation and escape from the belief challenges constantly presented by the "liberal media." Their psychological need for something affirmative is probably stronger than what's encountered on the opposite side of the aisle - as is their revulsion towards allegedly liberal (but really centrist) media outlets.

And thus we find, at the root of our political dysfunction, a classic nurture-nature mélange. The penchant for selective exposure is rooted in our psychology and our brains. Closed-mindedness and authoritarianism - running stronger in some of us than in others - likely are as well.

But nevertheless, it took the emergence of a station like Fox News before these tendencies could be fully activated - polarizing America not only over politics, but over reality itself.

 

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-115 # Robt Eagle 2012-04-10 08:44
Chris Mooney, every subject you cite here is open to interpretation, so this entire article is blatantly false and therefore left wing partisan.
 
 
+77 # Bejeebers 2012-04-10 10:05
R Eagle - an obvious Fox network viewer. My mind is made up - now don't you try to convince me with the facts...
 
 
+49 # devi 2012-04-10 10:42
Quoting Robt Eagle:
Chris Mooney, every subject you cite here is open to interpretation, so this entire article is blatantly false and therefore left wing partisan.


Yes, "...reality has a well-known liberal bias."
 
 
+20 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-10 12:42
When Nancy Pelosi took the gavel in 2006, I flipped through the channels to see everyone but Fox covering the event. Fox ran a piece on bulimia. Probably just coincidence.
 
 
+9 # Texas Aggie 2012-04-10 18:04
Just like it is open to interpretation as to whether you are falling off the 40th story balcony because of gravity or are flying because you're going head first.
 
 
-62 # Martintfre 2012-04-10 10:28
Each media outlet has its dishonest biases
 
 
+28 # pbbrodie 2012-04-10 11:02
No kidding but FOX outclasses them all by far.
 
 
+18 # Majikman 2012-04-10 11:47
False equivalency...a typical Faux News response.
 
 
-9 # Martintfre 2012-04-10 12:49
...
 
 
+17 # Capn Canard 2012-04-10 13:56
But unlike Jon Stewart there is little evidence that you are using critical thinking in your judgement. The cognitive dissonance causes a disagreement within your emotional world, there is turmoil hence you need to find a story that agrees with your emotions to calm the sea. To understand requires you to examine your own emotional strength and stability, also known as emotional intelligence. Good luck.
 
 
+3 # Texas Aggie 2012-04-10 18:08
Where do majikman and Lul say that you watch Fox? LUL isn't even there and majikman pointed out that your post was a false equivalence as is so typical in the bobble heads on Fox.

You don't make a whole lot of sense.
 
 
+1 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-10 18:12
Too bad you didn't read what I wrote. I said you were using, as you still are, false equivalencies. I said nothing about you getting your news exclusively or even primarily from Fox.

To extrapolate just a tiny bit further. False Equivalencies are invoked by the vast majority of the media. This waters down the reporting and supports the common belief that both sides are guilty of the same faults. There is a difference, but at the same time the similarities are never the items discussed. Except for here. The debate rages on this site about how both Republicans and Democrats have been co-opted by big business. This is a debate worth having and the equivalencies on that subject are numerous.

In order to discuss it, first you gotta read what people write.
 
 
+13 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-10 11:52
Martintfre,

You have just invoked the False Equivalencies argument. Sorry, it don't work anymore.
 
 
-55 # Montague 2012-04-10 10:38
I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Mr Eagle, but he does have a point. We all know Fox is conservative central and comes out with a lot of moonshine. But I see nothing wrong with the email telling staff to inform viewers there is debate about global warming. Scientists have been exposed for fiddling data to get a preferred result, and there IS argument about the phenomena and causes thereof. Even the venerated BBC has a policy of balanced reporting where both sides of an argument must be presented.
 
 
+21 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-10 11:51
No, they have not. Every analysis of the so-called email scandal has shown that nothing of the sort occurred. I am sure Fox and their friends on the Political Right are keeping this falsehood alive.

You know, its OK to disagree about Global Warming. And you can do that very few facts or science to back you up. But when you disagree, admit that you are flying in the face of conventional wisdom. A little honesty is not too much to ask for, is it?
 
 
+20 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-10 12:45
The debate is between 97% of scientists versus the 3% of paid scientists.
 
 
+16 # Feral Dogz 2012-04-10 13:03
Scientists have been exposed for fiddling data to get a preferred result, and there IS argument about the phenomena and causes thereof. Even the venerated BBC has a policy of balanced reporting where both sides of an argument must be presented.
The alleged data fiddling was a right wing invention. Man made global warming is not disputed among actual scientists. Well known climate scientist,Richa rd Muller, who questioned data supporting global warming did a study paid for by the Koch bros. He found the data to be accurate and published the results, much to the dismay of "conservatives" . Did Fox cover that story? Presenting false information and innuendo does not constitute fair and balanced reporting and only serves to exacerbate real problems, which seems to be what "conservatives" want. Canada denied Fox "news" access to broadcast because they have a rule against broadcasting lies. If you want Fox in Canada you have to buy it on cable.
 
 
+2 # Capn Canard 2012-04-10 14:04
Feral Dogz, also the idea of this new era of the Anthropocene may be of interest to the whole climate change debate. That is ball worth kicking around!
 
 
+6 # Regina 2012-04-10 22:32
The "other side" of science is ignorance. "Fiddling with data" is an ignorant accusation -- data MUST be checked and rechecked, and much of it may be entangled with random "noise" that must be filtered out. More scientists are accused than are guilty, and usually the accuser is a non-scientist with a political or financial ax to grind, or a journalist with a slanted publisher to serve.
 
 
+6 # Capn Canard 2012-04-10 14:01
Montague, no not at all. Over 90% of scientists agree on the data. If there is disagreement it is minor stuff about interpretation.
 
 
+8 # ericlipps 2012-04-10 17:04
Quoting Montague:
I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Mr Eagle, but he does have a point. We all know Fox is conservative central and comes out with a lot of moonshine. But I see nothing wrong with the email telling staff to inform viewers there is debate about global warming. Scientists have been exposed for fiddling data to get a preferred result, and there IS argument about the phenomena and causes thereof. Even the venerated BBC has a policy of balanced reporting where both sides of an argument must be presented.


No. Scientists were ACCUSED of "fiddling with the data" on global warming, which isn't the same thing. The issue has been carefully investigated and the charges found to be baseless--but one would never know that from Fox or its hounds.

As for the "argument" over global warming, among scientists not actually being paid to knock it down the only debate is over just how bad it will be. Virtually no objective researcher now doubts that it's happening and that human activities are playing a major role. Sorry, but it's true.
 
 
+4 # Texas Aggie 2012-04-10 18:13
Actually the only people claiming that scientists fudged the data are the people who are pushing the denialism. Those who actually look at the claims, such as Dr. Muller, a former skeptic, have said that the facts are clear, plain and undeniable.

The only debate on climate warming is NOT science based. In every case that deniers actually come up with data, it has been shown to be either distorted or cherry picked, and conflicting data has been totally ignored with no attempt to explain why the discrepancy.
 
 
+1 # Holmes 2012-04-10 19:00
References please for the claims that the Science Industry has exaggerated/fal sified data. Time to get a passport and travel to other cultures.

In the late 1990's the same crew were predicting problems here re our winter rainfall. It has declined and now the city depends on desalinated sea water. Farmers are not doing too well at times either.

You have validated the thesis of the article above.
 
 
+11 # JohnWayne 2012-04-10 10:51
I could become extremely rich almost overnight if I decided to toss aside all of my values and morals (not morels, no way!!) and decided to pander to the ultra-conservat ives in any way, shape or form that I desire. I know immediately that at least 30% of the 'adult' population will be predisposed to buy anything that I peddle as long as it is associated with the extreme right like maybe a bumper sticker that reads "I Don't Give a Finches Beak About C. Darwin or C. elegans For That Matter." (Obviously I would go bankrupt because that's too many words for a bumper sticker, not to mention too science-based.) But, say, I really, really did come up with a boffo bumper sticker that appealed to the Tea Party extremists. Then the money will come flooding in. Don't you think Rupert Murdock and all the Rovian wannabes out there have made similar calculations? And - you know - the same 30% + will be ripe for the pickin' 30 years from now . . . also, 300 years from now. Only the names will change. Now - it's off to the bumper sticker factory for me.
 
 
+21 # Rebok10 2012-04-10 11:00
The perpetration of the myth that global warming is "debatable" is ridiculous. There are billions of data points and over 95% of scientists agree. Can there ever be 100% certainty as in many aspects of science? No because there is no Planet B to run a control experiment on. Think about that, you "doubters" If you are wrong, you just sold out your grand and great grand children's future. There is no Planet B. This is the only planet that supports human life. You do want humans to have a place to live, right? Think of doing something about global warming as insurance for your grand children. Oh yes, with the side affect of cleaner air and safe water supply!! That is so evil isn't it :)
 
 
+12 # Capn Canard 2012-04-10 11:23
cognitive dissonance? see Robt Eagle above post for lack of critical thinking skills and a profound denial of facts leading to a warped sense of reality.
 
 
+19 # ltsnh1941@gmail.com 2012-04-10 11:30
Not all sides of a story are equally true and when an organization such as NPR attempts to treat all side equally they are doing us a disservice. For example, for all intents and purposes, evolution via natural selection has been shown to be true in 99/100 cases with equally valid natural reasons for the other 1/100. Therefore, we can essentially consider evolution by natural selection to be a fact and not a conjecture. But to give "creationism" or "intelligent design" equal weight such as many proposals before a variety of state legislatures would be a disservice to the scientific education of our youth. The same is true with climate change. If 99% of the scientists believe it is applicable to explain what is happening at the present time, why should the 1% of the disbelievers get equal time or perhaps even more time. Fox news is essentially a lie-producing network that does the American republic a huge disservice by the "garbage" they proclaim as truths.
 
 
+7 # AMLLLLL 2012-04-10 12:51
Well put,ltsnh. If you go to the Nixon library there is a memo from Roger Ailes musing that he would like to start a television network that promulgated his political beliefs...
 
 
+3 # dick 2012-04-10 11:47
Yes, FAUX lies & lies to manipulate their STUPID groupies. Yes, their gullible groupies, cultists really, believe they are entitled to their own world of My Fantasies=THE Facts. Yes, they bring little info or curiosity, self confidence or self esteem, or respect for reason, to the table. They just want & need to be reinforced in their little world. HOWEVER, the ANCBS liars are far more insidious, treacherous, duplicitous, thus far more dangerous. Their viewers, too, want desperately to be reinforced: America is the almighty force for good in the world, those who oppose US are terrorists, Israel wants peace, etc. You'd think Vietnam, Iraq, 9-11, The CRASH would have made it clear: the Corporate Media are LYING to you, 24/7.
 
 
+5 # Montague 2012-04-10 11:48
I KNEW I'd get massive thumbs-down for my last comment! I've said previously I believe global warming is real. I also said right there that a lot of Fox 'news' is hogwash. The point I was making, which seems to have escaped everyone, is that even BBC has a policy where both sides of any view must be mentioned. Climate-change denier Jeremy Clarkson recently got lambasted for saying strikers should be shot in front of their families. Ironically, those who were angry with him missed that what he was actually doing was criticising BBC balance. He said something like he supported strikers, but that since this is BBC and we must have balance he should now say they should be taken out and shot in front of their kids. Sorry, but balance is a good thing, no? Pity Fox doesn't practise it rigorously on all subjects. I think it's also sad that everyone hits the thumbs-down unless a comment just supports what they want to hear. After all, that's the kind of thing the article is criticising in the first place. If it's bad on Fox, it's bad everywhere.
 
 
+4 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-10 12:33
Montague,

Speaking as one who has made similar mistakes, you probably should have made your entire point clear.

On the other hand I do agree that the there was nothing "wrong" about the memo except to point out that Fox as a network is managed into a consistent viewpoint. That most certainly backs up much of what the article is saying.
 
 
+8 # Feral Dogz 2012-04-10 12:56
Quoting Montague:
I KNEW I'd get massive thumbs-down for my last comment! I've said previously I believe global warming is real. I also said right there that a lot of Fox 'news' is hogwash. The point I was making, which seems to have escaped everyone, is that even BBC has a policy where both sides of any view must be mentioned. Climate-change denier Jeremy Clarkson recently got lambasted for saying strikers should be shot in front of their families. Ironically, those who were angry with him missed that what he was actually doing was criticising BBC balance. He said something like he supported strikers, but that since this is BBC and we must have balance he should now say they should be taken out and shot in front of their kids. Sorry, but balance is a good thing, no? Pity Fox doesn't practise it rigorously on all subjects. I think it's also sad that everyone hits the thumbs-down unless a comment just supports what they want to hear. After all, that's the kind of thing the article is criticising in the first place. If it's bad on Fox, it's bad everywhere.

Fox does not present balanced news. It "informs' its viewers of what right wing ideologues want them to think. That's propaganda, pure and simple. False equivalency cannot justify Fox's pandering.
 
 
+5 # cadan 2012-04-10 11:56
Well, there's certainly a problem, and Mooney has meticulously documented it.

Then there's the question of what the solution is, and the very first step may be just doing what we can to help RSN and similar sites grow.

Somehow we have to work with reason because getting the Fox bullhorns will be kind of hard.
 
 
+7 # resiliencyinworkplace 2012-04-10 12:02
My guess is the the conservative commentors on this page haven't read the book. That would fit the Conservative profile developed in the book. I have read it and it points out the thinking processes of both liberal and conservative, including their strengths and weaknesses.The last chapter actually encourages liberals to act like conservatives more in order to get their points across.How can you condemn any book/article unless you have actually read it unless you already have a preconceived notion.Both sides do this, but conservatives seem to do it more. This is according to well documented studies which conservatives would claim to be liberal biased.You see where this is going? Read the freaking book first and then weigh in.
 
 
+8 # Feral Dogz 2012-04-10 12:26
The alleged data fiddling was a right wing invention. Man made global warming is not disputed among actual scientists. Well known climate scientist,Richa rd Muller, who questioned data supporting global warming did a study paid for by the Koch bros. He found the data to be accurate and published the results, much to the dismay of "conservatives" . Did Fox cover that story? Presenting false information and innuendo does not constitute fair and balanced reporting and only serves to exacerbate real problems, which seems to be what "conservatives" want.
 
 
+9 # Feral Dogz 2012-04-10 12:32
In Canada, Fox news may not broadcast (Canadians have a rule about lying on broadcast news). If you want Fox in Canada you have to buy it on cable.
 
 
0 # Montague 2012-04-10 12:53
Sorry, but when I said there was manipulation of data, Feral Dogz, you shouldn't assume I'm talking about the instance you mention. There was a tremendous squabble, reported in UK press, when researchers found their partners in a study on climate change had pushed data towards a desired conclusion. There've been quite a few stories like this in respected newspapers like the Guardian. As I keep saying, I believe climate change is REAL. But it's right that such disputes should be reported.
 
 
+2 # Feral Dogz 2012-04-11 12:52
Quoting Montague:
Sorry, but when I said there was manipulation of data, Feral Dogz, you shouldn't assume I'm talking about the instance you mention. There was a tremendous squabble, reported in UK press, when researchers found their partners in a study on climate change had pushed data towards a desired conclusion. There've been quite a few stories like this in respected newspapers like the Guardian. As I keep saying, I believe climate change is REAL. But it's right that such disputes should be reported.

Richard Muller's study looked at a broad range of data that included data from studies done in urban areas in China that did not adjust for heat held in pavement and buildings, thus indicating higher temperatures. This data was shown to be insignificant, but Fox and other climate change deniers jumped on it like it was the holy grail that proved them right. The non-existent controversy became news because news media need stories. Among scientists, there is no controversy. Fox's obvious pandering to the ignorant cannot be justified to rational minds.
 
 
-10 # Martintfre 2012-04-10 12:55
The biases are profound when you watch Fox, and CNN andCBS etc...

How many liberal stations will put up the fact that the Panthers put out a $1,000,000 bounty on Zimmerman of Trevon Martin case? That is conspiracy to commit a crime, solicitation

- If the Klan did such a thing then rightfully I would expect to see that plastered all over the news - yet stunning silence from the left/progressiv es --

Criminal activity is criminal activity your color, gender, religion .... is not an excuse to commit or be the victim of such action.
 
 
+5 # cadan 2012-04-10 13:35
Citation?

(And was it a bounty, or just a reward for information leading to arrest/convicti on?)
 
 
+8 # Texas Aggie 2012-04-10 18:21
It was $10,000 and the New Black Panthers, no relation the original, are such a pathetic group that to even pay attention to them is like the FBI getting all hot and bothered by the losers in Miami that they inveigled into planning to blow up some building in Chicago. To try to make the equivalence between them and Fox is just an excellent example of the false equivalence that is mentioned above.
 
 
+2 # dick 2012-04-10 13:19
FAUX reinforces mental & emotional weaklings & bigots. ANC-BS reinforces corporate domination. FAUX is rather obvious. ANC-BS is more dishonest, influences more people. FAUX & it's desperate worshipers are easy targets. The more clever Corporate Media are virtually never challenged from the left. Perhaps because they promote interpersonal tolerance along with Violent Imperialism & The SURVEILLANCE STATE. Over my lifetime, ABC-NBC-BS have done far more damage than the bumbling idiots at FAUX.
 
 
-1 # Montague 2012-04-10 13:51
Feral Dogz: false equivalency aint what I'm proposing. If it's bad to kneejerk on Fox for conservatives it's bad everywhere. That means it's BAD, I'm not proposing it as an excuse for Fox's myriad and egregious failings.
 
 
0 # Montague 2012-04-10 13:51
Feral Dogz: false equivalency aint what I'm proposing. If it's bad to kneejerk on Fox for conservatives it's bad everywhere. That means it's BAD, I'm not proposing it as an excuse for Fox's myriad and egregious failings.
 
 
+4 # humanmancalvin 2012-04-10 15:09
Hahaha..now tell me something that I didn't know. When I flip to Faux News during commercial breaks from MSNBC I often choke on my dinner listening to the warped distortions & total lies being bandied about by the right wing spokespeople disguised as newsmen/women. P.T. Barnum is certainly right on the money with his "Theres a sucker born every minute" quote. Maybe he had a crystal ball dialed into the future of the death of "Fair & Balanced News."
 
 
+2 # Texas Aggie 2012-04-10 18:25
And then there is W.C. Fields' statement about "Never give a sucker an even break." I believe that Barnum's Law and Fields' Corollary are what runs Fox.
 
 
+4 # underwater 2012-04-10 18:21
The more you Fox, the less you know.
 
 
+1 # underwater 2012-04-10 18:58
And...doesn't it say it all when the al Qaeda U.S.-born media adviser, Adam Gadahn says that Fox news "lacks objectivity"?

When al Qaeda thinks IT is morally superior to Fox news...no further surveys are required.
 
 
+2 # KvM 2012-04-10 22:21
I think first and foremost, ANY of the 'media' have to be seen for what they are: For Profit organisations. That being said, they have no choice but to 'pander' to their market...

Ultimately, it is the obligation of anyone interested in a subject to look deeper than the first information available. By way of example, ng before the last Presidential election, I knew Barack Obama was an 'empty suit' from what there wasn't available, such as any published works as a 'professor' at any institution, where the mantra is, "Publish or Perish".

The gullibility of the Public is the stuff of Legend, the duplicitous behaviour is the stuff of William Randolf Hearst's renouned "Yellow" journalism.

My advice? "if you choose remain ignorant, you better be tough, because in this day and age, you have no excuse."

You are reading this, aren't you?
 
 
+3 # pernsey 2012-04-11 08:01
Fox News is a lying bunch of liars. To say all news is like this, giving Fox news a big pass they dont deserve, and that the public doesnt deserve. Fox is not journalism, its the national enquirer in news form with less facts.
 
 
+3 # oakes721 2012-04-11 20:59
Having little time left to actually critically investigate their own news sources, people are swayed by the appearance of confidence as they look for someone 'in-the-know' to follow. With a primary fear of embarrassment, it's simplest to follow one who loudly ridicules all before him ~ so as to avoid being included in that group. Fox delivers verdicts rather than evidence, purposely stirring emotional frustrations that are meant to divide the people and to actively prevent harmony while promoting profitable prejudice and wars for their corporate sponsors.
 

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