I think I've mentioned this before, but watching Fox News a lot actually makes you dumber. Now, researchers have confirmed it:
The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly -- a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all. On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well. And people watching only The Daily Show with Jon Stewart could answer about 1.42 questions correctly.
This study comes out of New Jersey, so it must be true. And you know, it would be funny if ill-informed news consumers had no impact on the broader American society. But unfortunately they have a huge impact. The most egregious example -- in something I've mentioned many times here on Attytood because I think it's both so outrageous and so important -- is when Fox News viewers were more likely to falsely believe that Saddam Hussein and Iraq had something to do with al-Qaeda and 9/11, thus fueling popular support for a lie-based and immoral invasion. And of course Fox News' repeated lies about climate changes could have severe consequences for your children or grandchildren.
Indeed, you could make the case that Fox News and its dunderheaded, sensational brand of conservatism is destroying the Republican Party. How so? Check out the official party platform of the Iowa Republican Party, ripped from the headlines of Fox News (with an assist from talk radio). In addition to a detour into tin-foil-hat birtherism about President Obama, it calls for this:
We support the elimination of the departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Energy, Interior, Labor, and Commerce as well as TSA, FDA, ATF, EPA, National Endowment for the Arts, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
The platform also calls for a federal investigation of ACORN -- which has ceased to exist since 2010 but continues to be a major American problem in the world of Fox News. This bizarre document is an inevitable consequence of what happens when the political conversation is hijacked by an organization whose top priority is higher ratings.
And so now viewers of a certain late-night comedian are better informed than Fox News watchers. Unfortunately, that's no joke.