Jimmy Zuma

Jimmy Zuma
Washington, District of Columbia,
August 01
After ten years haunting online political forums and much longer as a disability rights advocate, Jimmy Zuma started the online political journal, Smart v. Stupid. Since then, he has emerged as one of the left’s most direct new voices. Almost immediately, Jimmy was offered the opportunity to join the political team at Technorati where he writes DC Water Cooler, a weekly feature on what the politicians and pundits are talking about. Most recently, his columns began appearing in the Tucson Sentinel in Tucson Arizona. He is also an occasional contributor to OpEd News. Jimmy's goal is to return vetting to the marketplace of ideas, by elevating the status of smart ideas and debunking dumb ones.

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Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 16, 2010 3:46PM

FOX News top source of voter misinformation, study finds

Rate: 16 Flag

In the 2010 election, the big winners were lies and liars


In the first election since the Citizens United decision, misinformation played a central role. That’s the finding of a new study, Misinformation and the 2010 Election, from the University of Maryland’s World Public Opinion. Voters believe they heard more lies than in past elections. Researchers found voters were also influenced by the lies they didn’t catch.

The bad news for FOX News viewers is that merely watching the channel appears to be toxic. Most voters believed a few whoppers during the 2010 election cycle. But daily watchers of FOX News believed more misinformation than everyone else.

Are FOX viewers simply people who watch the station to reinforce misinformed views they already have? “No,” says Clay Ramsay, Lead Researcher for the project, “Even Democratic voters who watched FOX News were more misinformed than others.” While all cable news earns some criticism from Ramsay, “FOX displays a particular pattern of misinformation. The more you watch the more inaccurate your views.”

The researchers didn’t originally intend to rank news outlets. They simply wanted to know sources of voter misinformation. Ramsay discovered the unusual FOX correlation—the more you watch the worse it gets—unexpectedly, while sifting through the data. FOX was alone in this regard.

The study strengthens a widely held view that FOX News is a source of political propaganda. Days after the study was released, Media Matters reported leaked e-mails from FOX’s Washington managing editor to on-air talent. He instructs them to call “the public option” “the government option,” wording recommended by a Republican pollster (according to Media Matters.) In another e-mail, the editor instructs them to muddy the waters concerning settled science about climate change. These leaks offer further corroboration of the surprise findings of the study—that FOX News Channel is a singularly notable source of misinformation.

While less of a bombshell, the study also made other important findings about the information used by voters in 2010. “I believe the most significant aspect of the study is that people believed they’d been exposed to much greater levels of misinformation,” said Ramsay. An overwhelming ninety-one percent said they encountered misinformation “frequently” or “sometimes” during the election cycle. Fifty-four percent said the level of misinformation was higher than in past elections.

While voters said the economy was their top issue, only eight percent believed the true statement that most economists (who’d studied the Stimulus bill) thought it created or saved millions of jobs. Only thirteen percent believed that most economists (who’d studied the new healthcare law) said it would reduce the deficit, also a true statement. And 55% believed the economy is still getting worse even though it’s been improving for over a year now.

Only a slim majority knew that President Bush signed the TARP legislation. And nearly six in ten didn’t know the Stimulus legislation signed by President Obama included a tax cut. Only ten percent knew their taxes had gone down since Obama took office. And incredibly, forty-two percent still have some doubt about the President’s citizenship even though the word “birther” is now synonymous with “fool.”

Although none of the 24-hour cable news outlets are free of misinformation, FOX viewers as a group are significantly less well informed than consumers of CNN, MSNBC, NPR or PBS. The study found that the best informed voters are people who get their news from print sources (either paper or online) or from what Ramsay calls “disorganized sources”—a combination of written media and say, listening to news while driving to work. To discover the truth, he recommends variety and “a willingness to challenge your own beliefs.”

The Citizens United decision opened up a floodgate of opportunity for lying and cheating by unnamed sources, and voters noticed. Last week, I detailed how the President’s reelection would be stymied because of the lies he enabled with his tax cut deal. Now we have research that political misinformation works—and works quite powerfully. In fact, misinformation may have carried the most recent election. This is a particularly ugly moment in American Democracy. But the next election may be even uglier.

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"Only a slim majority knew that President Bush signed the TARP legislation."

Pretty much says it all, doesn't it.
Fascinating, I've got to check this out. I'm right with them that this is changing the fundamentals of the political process, but I would call it "disinformation": Deliberately misleading information.
The good news in all of this is the FCC Chief who has vowed to clean up the dysnfunctional news.
Seems like the networks get to use the public airwaves free as long as they give the public news. They cut back on funding them separately and then made then subject to ratings. He said that the misinformation was making it impossile for Americans to have good enough info to fulfill their civic duty.
I hope this comes to pass.
something wicked this way comes....

stop the advance of the 451s
"Smart Vs. Stupid". Indeed.
Hmmm. I had a suspicion that Fox viewers might be a little slow...
Fox viewers misinformed? Dog bites man.
Giving corporations personhood by extending 1st amendment rights to them; allowing the old Bell companies to merge and acquire each other, only to wind up with just another two or three giant telephone companies again; outright killing the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting; allowing ownership of mixed media outlets in same markets; all these things have gotten us to where we are now. We have Bill Clinton to thanks for signing a bad bill in 1996. It's killed any semblance of balance in all the media.

Meanwhile, none of the cable companies will compete against each other, which has predictably resulted in rate increases far in excess of the CPI rate of inflation.

We're being dumbed down like never before.
Dumb as they are, they vote and they count like a "smart" liberals.
I like Fox News, especially O'Reilly. I watch the BBC at 5 and then O'Reilly at 6. I also like Al Jazeira English.

The main reason I like Fox News is they agree that the USA is an honorable nation. They don't act like the USA is some kind of evil empire all the time, an idea that I totally reject, and sincerely hope never becomes a self fulling prophecy.

As far as this attitude that the conservative Americans are dumb is hubris. There is no such thing as an inferior or superior human being. Thinking you are superior to any other human being, automatically lowers your own station.
Right on, Jimmy.

@Steve Klingman: At the level of misleading, slanted commentary promulgated by FOX, "disinformation" is too kind. They are masterful propagandists. In just one example, their coordinated use of rumor, innuendo, obfuscation and general disparagement to discredit President Obama is obvious to any viewer with even a slight knowledge of their topic du jour. We're talkin' lies here. There are many ways to lie, and FOX knows them all.

@earthling155: America wants to be an honorable nation -- and is, for the most part. But dishonorable leaders can sometimes dictate dishonorable events -- and have. I could give you some examples, but we would probably disagree on what consitutes "honorable".
Failure to fall in lock-step with Democrat talking points is not equivalent to disinformation.

As for Tom C, I have heard more or less continuously on FOX that Bush signed on to TARP. I have also heard prominent FOX conservative contributors, whose IQs dwarf most heard here, express approval of TARP.

FOX predicted last night's defeat of Reid and Pelosi in a very fair and balanced way.

In your efforts to curb free speech in this country, I suggest you turn your attention to a more vulnerable target. MSM perhaps?
Gordon Osmond wrote:

"FOX predicted last night's defeat of Reid and Pelosi in a very fair and balanced way...."

...and they lost. The bill goes for signature today.

Calling Fox a news org is like calling Michael Douglas a Wall St. tycoon because he played one in the movies. (Well, unless you get off on knowing about Paris Hilton's latest exploits.)
There is an interesting angle to this information. It has been discussed for many years about how FOX NEWS uses disinformation. The propaganda purpose is understood. What fascinates about it going forward is that a segment of the viewing public is continuing to choose FOX with the knowledge that the information is not good information. Among some segment, it appears that accuracy is less desired than something else. What is that something else? Is it some sort of group identity?
Part of the problem of Fox News really isn't the partisanship, or its attempt to misinform. The real problem is that so many of its programs have bloated talking heads who spout opinions based on no evidence whatsoever. I notice this mainly on weekends when I eat breakfast at a restaurant that always has Fox News on in the mornings. The talking heads on the show were constantly shouting each other down to the point that they were yelling pretty much anything just to get in the next word. And then I started to realize that a lot of what they were shouting was incorrect, sometimes incoherent, babble.

That, to me, is where a lot of the misinformation hails.
There are a few Fox News commentators I don't like and I usually don't listen to. I don't like backbiting and fault finding. I didn't like the way most media treated President Bush and I don't like the way some of Fox News analyst treat President Obama.

I like the United States. In spite of our imperfections, the USA has been a positive influence in human civilization. We have earned our prosperity with our hard work and we've spent our blood and treasure to advance the cause of human rights throughout human civilization.

I like the United Nations. It is the greatest civilization that has ever existed on this planet. It is our global federation of nations, our universal common wealth, the next generation of human civilization.

I've been watching the news for 40 years, I suppose the first news program I watched was the moon landing in 1969. My mom made us watch it. I can vaguely remember Bobby Kennedy's assassination.

I like Fox News because they present an American view of the news, and not this anti American view that is so popular is most of the other medias.

Seek the truth, and the truth will set you free.
It is interesting to see that disinformation is alive and well in both political extremities... the far left and the far right.
The "study" mentioned above deliberately uses the term "Created or Saved" jobs to cushion the notion that the stimulus actually helped. This "truth" is only True if a very loose definition of "saved jobs" is liberally applied.
The "truth" that the healthcare law would reduce the deficit requires isolating the findings from the rest of the economy and not taking into account the global impact of the bill in it's entirety. Again... what is the current working definition of truth?
It seems to be greatly effected by Perspective.
In the view from the middle... well... Truth is up for grabs. Let's get real and solve some real problems.
May I suggest you have a look at the study, Saline. Obviously, I didn't explain it well enough for you to understand what was actually being measured.