« Imus firing not about "free speech" | Main | Blog dystopia: Matt Stoller v. Power Line »

April 16, 2007


Brendan, it appears you didn't get the memo.

Fox News is now the designated tarbaby for Democrats. Rational analysis is not only superfluous, it's counterproductive. There's only so much hate that can be focussed on Karl Rove. All that passion needs an outlet, and Fox News will do just fine till something better (like a Republican nominee) comes along.

So please, try to get with the program. If you have any interest in teaching in a major American university, you're going to have to march in step.

I had thought Klein's interpretation of the survey suspect and misguided. As much as I disdain Fox News Channel, or any of the cable news networks, I hardly think they are especially stupefying. Quite a few other qualities of those surveyed that seem likelier to have determined such results. I suspect that some survey, though I know not how it might be implemented, of how logically and carefully the viewers thought about politics would be far less flattering to viewers of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report".

As for you, Rob, I must wonder if it's really fitting to impugn the fallacious with the infantile as you have.

Good point Brendan. I think it's tempting to view the stratification by preferred news source as evidence of a causal relationship -- viewers of TDS/Colbert are better informed as a result of watching those shows -- but it the strictest sense, these are correlations.

The news sources, in statistical terms, might be considered confounders that obscure the real cause-and-effect here. The authors note the profound influence of educational level on awareness of current events, and I tend to think of this as the real causal force here.

To be fair, though, the point of the poll isn't that TDS (or Limbaugh) makes you smarter. These details seem to have been thrown in for fun, really; they could have summarized these categories more traditionally as cable news, newspapers, internet, etc. The chief conclusion is that the media revolutions over the past 18 years (specifically the introduction of 24-hour cable TV news and the internet) have had little impact upon our overall awareness of current events.

However, when you drill down a little, you see in their results a predictable conclusion: that those news sources geared towards news junkies (cable news, TDS, NPR) attract those who want to keep well-informed and frequently updated!

All stats aside though, it's downright frightening that only 69% of Americans can name the current Vice President. :O

The comments to this entry are closed.