the more you watch (Fox) the less you know

This PPP poll reveals some interesting ignorance about government involvement in healthcare:

One poll question indicative of how difficult it is to gain public understanding on a complicated issue asked if respondents thought the government should 'stay out of Medicare,' something inherently impossible. 39% said yes.

Less surprising is how this misinformation is concentrated in certain segments of the populace. For example, stay-out-of-Medicare maintains a 62% majority among both McCain voters and Republicans. I've noted a few studies (see here and here for examples) that correlate misinformation with media consumption, and the current healthcare debate is merely the latest example. MSNBC's "First Read" points out that:

One of the reasons why the public appears so wary about Obama's health-care plans is due to all the misinformation out there. [...] When you have nearly half of the public believing that the government is willing to pull the plug on grandma, you're in trouble.

Ron Chusid singles out the right-wing media at Liberal Values, noting that "Poll after poll show that the more you watch Fox, the dumber you are:"

In this case we would be better off we really did have a liberal media in contrast to Fox. The media typically presents true statements from liberals along with misinformation from the far right and believes this is the way to provide balance.

Washington Monthly's Steve Benen also notes that "Fox News viewers are throwing off the curve:"

Fox News viewers would have done better, statistically speaking, if they had received no news at all and simply guessed whether the claims were accurate. Matters have clearly not improved.

It would take an unlikely twist of self-reflection, but at a certain point, Fox News and its audience might take a moment to ponder why these viewers are so wrong, so often, about so much. That almost certainly won't happen, of course, since they're not quite well informed enough to realize they're uninformed, but it'd be interesting to see what they came up with.


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