Like Crispin I am exceedingly skeptical of "this gleefully publicized notion" that watching FOX News makes you more ill-informed than spending 365 days a year locked in a tanning bed, and since the whole thing smells desperately of the received opinions of competing cable news, we can take it with all the grains of salt at the bottom of all the bags of pretzels in the world. The most prominent example in the press release abstract?
Among other topics, New Jerseyans were asked about the outcome of the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East this past year. While 53% of New Jerseyans know that Egyptians were successful in overthrowing the government of Hosni Mubarak, 21% say that the uprisings were unsuccessful, and 26% admit they don’t know. Also, 48% know that the Syrian uprising has thus far been unsuccessful, while 36% say they don’t know,and 16% say the Syrians have already toppled their government.Those FOX dummies! But before all you Jon Steward fans set to congratulating yourselves over your incisive insight into Egypt, you may consider that there was no "government of Hosni Mubarak"; that Hosni Mubarak was merely the head of a military government; that he was ultimately deposed by the military; and that the military is still the government. Now that is not nitpicking. What "New Jerseyans know", except of course for those who watch FOX, is fundamentally incorrect, not simply a bit off on the details; it reflects the banal, uncritical, deeply parochial, spectacle-obsessed hack journalism of USA Today and MSNBC and the Sulzberger Picayune . . . in other words, this poll reflects that routine FOX viewers are not necessarily familiar with the same canned bullshit as CNN viewers. Well, okay. Sure.
But the real finding is that the results depend on what media sources people turn to for their news. 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[.]
I find FOX grotesquely polychromatic, more garish even than my beloved NFL, which is saying something, but have never understood this idea that it represents some sort of vanguard of media degeneracy; what FOX resembles more than anything else is not some Brave New World, but a thoroughly retrograde aesthetic; it is local news, circa the mid-eighties, from the ambush interviews to the Satanic Daycares (or whatever, their missing-girl equivalents) to the breathless consumer reviews to the--and believe me, a Pittsburgh boy recognizes it well--charming, campy provincialism of the whole proceedings. FOX is the bad old days of broadcast, and the characters it pimps in national elections are the glorious blowhards of local politics writ large; what is Rick Perry if not a school-board president; what is Gingrich but the minority-party city-council smartypants who'll never be mayor?