Friday, December 17, 2010

Liberal "Journalism"

Study Confirms That Fox News Makes You Stupid

This article was recently published on AlterNet, although it's not the first time this liberal-media bash of Fox News study has been quoted in the liberal media. So why am I linking it? Well, in some cases, the sheer magnitude of the audacity of something being distorted to support an agenda rises to the level of selective ridicule, and I feel that this is one such piece. So, for amusement, here are the items which were asserted to be "facts", and the number of Fox News readers who disagreed with the liberal talking points "facts":
•91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs
•72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit
•72 percent believe the economy is getting worse
•60 percent believe climate change is not occurring
•49 percent believe income taxes have gone up
•63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts
•56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout
•38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP
•63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)

Well, just for fun, let's see how many of these statements I would disagree with. Now, I'm not a Fox News viewer, but I consider myself a fairly well-informed, rational person (I'm sure some would argue, but whatever). So, in order:
the health reform law will increase the deficit

Well, if you don't think this is true, you're either ill informed, willing to take obvious lies on face value, or deluding yourself. Seriously, I'd question your ability to think if you thought this was factual; there's really no other way to say it.
the economy is getting worse

This is more of a grey-area. The economy is not yet getting better, and you could certainly argue that Obama's policies are contributing to additional long-term damage to the economy, but short-term the situation is more unclear. Based on continuing increases in unemployment only, though (which seems like a fairly objective measurement), and/or private industry health, this statement would also be accurate.
climate change is not occurring

The factual basis for this would depend largely on how the question was worded, unfortunately. It's fairly clear that some climate change is occurring, however anything beyond that (ie: natural or man-made, cyclic or not, hotter or colder, causes, etc.) is scientific hypothesis and speculation at this point. I'd say this is actually a fact, but probably not as presented or implied.
income taxes have gone up

For the majority of people, income taxes have not changed, so this one is hard to justify. You could argue that implied future taxation has increased due to massive deficit spending, but that's a stretch. Unless people are thinking of state taxation, or non-income taxation, or regulation, or implied taxation, or derivative costs... this is a misconception.
the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts

This is true, as far as I know. The legislation provided a lot of handouts, some rebates, and some selective credits, but no tax cuts, or anything to make taxation lower or more fair in the medium or long term.
Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout

Obama may not have publicly initiated the "bailout" (really, wealth confiscation and redistribution), but if you don't think he was intimately involved, I might have some beach-front property available in Arizona which I would sell you for a very reasonable price...
most Republicans opposed TARP

This is another easy point of confusion. Most Republicans opposed TARP as it was used by the Obama administration, which was totally different than how it was pitched when they voted on it. I'm guessing that distinction wasn't emphasized in the survey, so you can forgive a certain amount of ambiguity in the answers.
Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)

Well, to be fair, due to the strenuous efforts of the Obama administration, and complacency by the local [politically-aligned] government, belief in this is a matter of faith, rather than verifiable public record. A conspiracy-minded individual could be forgiven for wondering why such a large amount of effort was put into keeping the documentation secret, of course, or why the highest public servant in the country doesn't have to prove eligibility for the office. I'd say "unclear" is a fair assessment, given the efforts at concealment and faith-based verification.

Hm, so let's see... looking over the list, I'd have to say that the Fox News viewers are remarkably well-informed, given that they represent such a large subset of the news-viewing population of the country. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that accepting the conclusions of this study on face value might not only imply something about one's own political views, but in the spirit of the study itself, might go a long way to prove that you are indeed the stupid one. Maybe there's some deeper double-meaning sociological implication going on here... or maybe this is just another example of retarded liberal "journalism", I leave it to the [more informed] reader to decide.

Edit: Addendum, more on the health care bill, since there's some obvious intentional confusion about how much it will increase the deficit (if at all). The bill itself is expected to cost around $1,100,000,000,000 (at least) over the next decade (that's over a trillion dollars). However, proponents contend that two factors reduce the overall cost:
- Congress has yet to fund most of the provisions, so their costs will be variable based on future legislation
- Savings from reductions in Medicare payments are expected to compensate for the costs
On the other side of the argument:
- Many of the provisions call for funding which is unspecified, all of which would increase the cost if not repealed before funded

As for the Medicare payments, it's true that the government could make the program cost-neutral by cutting Medicare payments enough to compensate. However, before you blindly accept that rosy picture, you should check and see how they are doing at reducing payments to doctors, which are already so much lower than private insurance payments that the supply of doctors for Medicare patients is dwindling rapidly. As the saying goes, there's no free lunch, and effectively adding millions of high-risk patients to Medicare isn't magically going to reduce the cost to the government. Just sayin.


  1. All of those claims are pure nonsense except the healthcare one. At one point they were going to phase in new taxes to pay for it, but I don't recall whether that made it into the bill.

    I don't get the climate change one. If the climate didn't change, there wouldn't be glacial hills outside my window. Maybe the Fox News idiots interpreted the statement to mean "the costs of the anthropogenic portion of climate change could be significantly reduced by reducing carbon emissions." That's inventing intelligent things they could think. I suspect most of them are idiots.

    All of the other ones you go over are similar stretches. You have to imagine these people were reading something else into a pretty plain nonsense statement.

  2. I think most of those claims are disputable, depending on what your assumptions are about the scope of the question; that's all I'm trying to say. For example, there's no clarification stated about long-term cyclical climate change (which I'd guess most people would accept as fact, even Fox News readers), and short-term man-made climate change from CO2/etc. (which is more disputable). I could phrase that question in a clear way; I'd be willing to bet money that the survey people did not.

    I'm not asserting that some of the people surveyed are not also idiots, but I'd guess if you looked at the population as a whole, and asked non-biased questions, Fox News readers would not be statistically below the national average. Either that, or I need to count myself significantly below the national average in intelligence (which means the online IQ testing site which scored me around 160 needs to seriously revise its testing methodology).

  3. You could be an outlier.

    Or maybe the entire claim is wrong. It rings true to me, though, even if you word the claims fairly, b/c anyone getting ideological news will not be as knowledgeable as someone getting news that at least tries to be unbiased.