Fox News sits at its center. New Suffolk University polling data shows how Fox News viewers (and those respondents who identify as “conservative” and “very conservative”) are much more critical of President Barack Obama, are afraid of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and have a much more negative attitude about the future of the United States than the general public. Fox News viewers are also much more likely to believe that the presidential election will somehow be manipulated or subjected to fraud and that the American news media is conspiring against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
In a recent story, the 24/7 cable news outlet CNN also analyzed and commented upon the new Suffolk University poll. It offered the following important qualifier:
Fox allies might say the poll findings show that other channels have a liberal bent. Fox critics might say that the results illustrate the echo chamber of conservative media.
With one small comment, CNN has unintentionally (and ironically) provided an example of how the “liberal news media” has aided and abetted the rise of Trump.
CNN alluded to differences in opinion about Fox News, partisanship, as well as how other news channels may have a “liberal bias.” CNN then chose, however, to ignore research, which has repeatedly shown that Fox News is not “fair or balanced” but rather extremely biased and partisan. Other work has demonstrated that Fox News is a source of disinformation whereby viewers are repeatedly fed lies on a broad range of topics including science, the economy, health care policy, terrorism, immigration and religion.
In all, Fox News is extremely dangerous to the public discourse and consensus politics in America because it creates a feedback loop among conservatives, one that is almost impossible to break. Chris Mooney explained this in his book, “The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality”:
Fox News is both deceiver and enabler simultaneously. First, its existence creates the opportunity for conservatives to exercise their biases, by selecting into the Fox information stream, and also by imbibing Fox-style arguments and claims that can then fuel biased reasoning about politics, science, and whatever else comes up.
But at the same time, it’s also likely that conservatives, tending to be more closed-minded and more authoritarian, have a stronger emotional need for an outlet like Fox, where they can find affirmation and escape from the belief challenges constantly presented by the “liberal media.” Their psychological need for something affirmative is probably stronger than what’s encountered on the opposite side of the aisle — as is their revulsion towards allegedly liberal (but really centrist) media outlets.
This has a deleterious impact on the ability of Republicans to legislate and govern in a responsible manner. Writing at the New Republic, Danny Vinik examined findings from a 2014 Brookings and Public Religion Research Institute poll came up with the following conclusion: