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Nov 28, 2012

Updated Fox News Research: It's Not What You Might Expect

Both leading up to and in the aftermath of the presidential election, there was wide-spread discussion about the role of the media in politics, particularly in regards to the election results. I weighed in on the subject, expressing concern that some who watched Fox News were not served well by some on the news channel.

By listening to a few (not all) of the commentators, some viewers came to the conclusion that Romney was going to win, when this was a long shot for several weeks. Our research (and my comments) were picked up by several news sources, which made a few people none-too-happy that I criticized Fox News. Some of the people on Fox News have since apologized, and many conservative publications expressed similar concerns, so I guess my criticism was more acceptable after it was more common. ;-)

It was not secret that biased coverage on Fox News and, to some extent, on MSNBC was the talk of the mainstream media for several days.

As part of that conversation, I posted some research here on the blog related to Protestant pastors' perceptions of different news organizations. We even went back and parsed it some more. (Protestant pastors are Fox News fans.)

When the post-election story eventually ran its course, Fox News was left with a tarnished reputation among the general public. Or were they? We wanted to know-- so, we did a poll.

Over the past couple of weeks, we had a chance to do some follow-up research about media trustworthiness, specifically about Fox News. It is not a huge study-- just a couple of questions-- but it is an interesting snapshot nonetheless.

Much to the surprise of many-- and the dismay of some-- the results don't support the post-election conversation about Fox News losing its reputation among viewers. Quite the contrary. In fact, some evangelicals support Fox News even stronger now than they did before the election.

Here is the data:

Also, there were some notable statistically significant differences from respondents when we broke them down by age:

  • Americans age 45-54 (6%) are less likely to select "I am much more trusting of their news coverage" than those age 18-29 (12%), 30-44 (15%), and 65+ (12%)
  • Americans age 18-29 (18%) are the most likely to select "I am somewhat more trusting of their news coverage"
  • Americans age 18-29 (33%) are more likely to select "My opinion of their news coverage has not changed" than those age 30-44 (41%), 45-54 (52%), and 65+ (46%)
  • Americans age 45-54 (52%) are more likely to select "My opinion of their news coverage has not changed" than those age18-29 (33%), 30-44 (41%), and 55-64 (40%)

And born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christians:

  • More likely to select "I am much more trusting of their news coverage" (17%)
  • Less likely to select "My opinion of their news coverage has not changed" (37%)

In other words, many evangelicals trust Fox News more after their election coverage.

I confess, I am surprised, but it does point to the deep mistrust that evangelicals, and many other Americans, have toward the mainstream media. I believe that many in the mainstream media have earned their reputation, so I would say to all news viewers: let the viewer beware. No one is without bias, left and right.

So what are your thoughts on this updated research? Has your view of Fox News-- or any other news group-- changed since the election?

The online survey of 1,191 adult Americans was conducted November 14 - 16, 2012. A sample of an online panel representing the adult population of the US was invited to participate. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +2.9%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

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Posted:November 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

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Updated Fox News Research: It's Not What You Might Expect