May 30, 2012 38 Comments
I just came across a dead depressing and very interesting study conducted by the Farleigh Dickinson University — about which institution I freely confess I know nothing — which concludes that listeners of the National Public Radio in the United States are amongst its best informed citizens. Those that indulge themselves with Fox News, on the other hand, are the worst.
And the cheer goes up from the liberal gallery.
But be still a moment, my blue hearts. The survey also shows a striking similarity in levels of ignorance between MSNBC-watching American liberals and their foxy conservatives counterparts. So pop goes that weasel, cupcakes. Now, dedicated Team Blue folks might wag their fingers and insist I admit that MSNBC/CNN watching libs did better than Fox-watching cons. It’s true. They did. But given that their edge was only 0.61, which had to be further adjusted to accommodate their perception of themselves as well-informed global citizens, I am inclined to dismiss this difference and declare this one a draw.
The most fascinating part of the study, however, was the bit where MSNBC/CNN watching conservatives (you read that right) and Fox-watching liberals did significantly worse on both domestic and international questions, than when they were allowed to watch broadcast/opinion shows of their choice. Funny, that. Did their distrust and/or dislike (or virulent hatred) of the news (or ‘news’) source act as metaphorical earplugs? Were they unto these channels as the villagers to the boy who cried wolf? Did they bare their fangs at the talk-show hosts, and believed them not? Idle minds wish to know.
For those amongst you who are more inclined to thinking seriously (instead of giggling behind palms — my favoured modus operandi), however, the report also offers this little nugget:
News organizations’ tone and allocation of resources also apparently affected respondents’ abilities to answer questions. NPR has as many domestic bureaus as foreign ones; its listeners did best on questions about international events. “Daily Show” viewers were next. On domestic questions, people who watched Sunday news shows did nearly as well as NPR listeners.
Chew that for a moment. Move it from cheek to cheek. What does it weally say?
Yes. That’s right. This study secwetly confirms that the news-and-opinions business is really a circus within a theatre in a magic show, keeping us distracted, amused, impressed, prejudiced, furious and strategically misinformed with metaphorical dancing elephants, chatty clowns, and blondes in bodysuits on tightropes, to keep us from noticing the owner’s crew of pickpockets quietly working the rows from under the seats. Paying for the privilege of being temporarily enchanted and offered a sense of community, while being permanently cleaned out, and thinking you came out on top. That’s were the news desks are at.
Why yes, you can always come to me for crowd-pleasing pop analysis, with an extra helping of the paranoia cheese. I live to serve.