It’s not exactly a revelation that Fox News viewers are spectacularly ill informed about current events compared to people who watch other networks. But according to a recent report, the Fox audience knows less even than folks who don’t watch any news at all.
Researchers from New Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University asked about a thousand people five questions on domestic issues (e.g., “Which party has the most seats in the House of Representatives right now?”) and five on international ones (e.g., “There have been increasing talks about economic sanctions against Iran. What are these sanctions supposed to do?”).
Fox viewers scored the lowest in both categories, getting an average of 1.04 questions right on domestic issues and 1.08 on international, behind people who watch MSNBC (which, on international affairs, also lagged the non-news watchers) The Daily Show, and the Sunday talk show viewers, as well as NPR listeners – the best informed audience – and, yes, people who don’t “do” news.
“We expect that watching the news should help people learn, but the most popular of the national media sources seem to be the least informative,” said Dan Cassino, professor of political science at FDU and analyst for the poll.
The reaction from Fox? “Considering FDU’s undergraduate school is ranked as one of the worst in the country,” said a company spokesperson, “we suggest the school invest in improving its weak academic program instead of spending money on frivolous polling – their student body does not deserve to be so ill-informed.”