Survey Shows NPR Listeners Most Informed, Fox Viewers Worst Informed

There have been multiple studies which, not surprisingly, show that those who watch Fox are the most misinformed.  A survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University found that those who listen to NPR could answer the most questions about current events. Those who watch Fox did the worst–even worse than those who do not watch any media. Daily Show viewers also did well.

People who watch no news at all can answer more questions about international current events than people who watch cable news, a survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMindfinds.

NPR and Sunday morning political talk shows are the most informative news outlets, while exposure to partisan sources, such as Fox News and MSNBC, has a negative impact on people’s current events knowledge.

People who watch MSNBC and CNN exclusively can answer more questions about domestic events than people who watch no news at all. People who only watch Fox did much worse. NPR listeners answered more questions correctly than people in any other category…

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…

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.

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Fox Viewers Are Not Dumb As A Rock–But Come Close

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Yet Another Study Shows That The More You Watch Fox, The Dumber You Are

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Jon Stewart Responds To Republican Hypocrisy On Bin Laden Ad

Jon Stewart responded to the hypocrisy of the Republicans in attacking the recent Obama ad featuring the killing of Osama bin Laden. A portion:

So let me get this right. Republicans, you’re annoyed by the arrogance and braggadocio of a wartime president’s political ad. You think he’s decisively and unfairly belittling his opponents. I see. I have a question: Are you on crack? Were you alive lo these past ten years? It seems unseemly for the president to spike the football? Bush landed on a f*ckin’ aircraft carrier with a football-stuffed codpiece. He spiked the football before the game had even started.

Former Bush campaign adviser Mark McKinnon realizes that the Republicans have fallen into a trap in attacking the ad and making the issue more prominent. Unfortunately he does have a rather selective memory as to how Republicans used 9/11 politically. Stewart’s video might help remind him of some more examples.

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Quote of the Day

“The (Supreme Court) ruling that anyone who’s arrested — even accidentally — can be strip-searched was decided five to four, with the votes for the searches coming from the Court’s five conservatives. You know — the ‘defending personal liberty’ guys. Which is weird because I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I’m willing to bet Big Government feels it’s biggest when it’s inside your anus.” –Jon Stewart

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Bioethicist Calling Jon Stewart Our Greatest Public Intellectual

In an article in the American Journal of Bioethics, a Loyola bioethicist is calling Jon Stewart “our greatest public intellectual.”

Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD, writes that Stewart “has emerged as our voice of sanity in a sea of insanity in a new media age with its ephemeral nature and lack of substance.” Parsi is an associate professor in the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Parsi explains that a public intellectual is seriously committed to ideas and discourse. He or she may be an academic, although journalists, policymakers and even politicians can play the role.

Parsi notes that Stewart invites a variety of writers, artists and intellectuals to discuss their work on “The Daily Show,” which he hosts on Comedy Central. In doing so, Stewart has taken on the mantle of a public intellectual himself.

“In an era with a great amount of strident self-righteousness, Stewart cuts through the absurdities of what passes for political discourse,” Parsi writes. “Although bioethics topics do not figure prominently in the Stewart oeuvre of satire . . . the issues that are part and parcel of bioethics (say, health care reform) have merited a significant amount of attention.”

Stewart and his colleague Stephen Colbert “have created a space where serious writers can discuss their works in front of a fairly large audience.”

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War on Religion

Plus to the religious right, freedom of religion means the freedom to impose their religious views upon others.

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A Great Weekend For Mitt Romney As Cain And Perry Self-Destruct

As can clearly be seen in many previous posts here, a sane person would have great difficulty holding the views promoted by the far right. Their positions are based upon multiple falsehoods regarding current events, government policy, history, economics, science, and the beliefs of others. As a consequence, the far right is having a very hard time finding a candidate to take on Mitt Romney. At some point Mitt Romney has claimed to hold the views of pretty much everyone, and although he has moved much further right than would be consistent with many of the views he held in the past, not even conservatives are dumb enough to believe his act. Despite this, Romney had quite a good weekend as two of his major rivals for the Republican nomination, Herman Cain and Rick Perry, self-destructed.

It was bad enough for Herman Cain when Politico broke a story of sexual misconduct last night. Things got even worse this morning when the news story became the inconsistencies in his story as Cain “remembered” new things about the allegations. From The Note:

Facing a controversy that has the potential to either topple his presidential hopes or simply embolden his supporters, Herman Cain has spent the past 24 hours offering a meandering series of recollections about sexual harassment allegations leveled against him more than a decade ago.

His lack of clarity threatened to further complicate an already dicey situation for his campaign that began late Sunday night when Politico surfaced accusations of harassment against Cain during his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association.

“In all of my over 40 years of business experience, running businesses and corporations, I have never sexually harassed anyone,” Cain said in an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Monday, adding that the entire episode amounted to a “witch hunt.”

But that’s where his consistency ended.

“I am unaware of any sort of settlement,” Cain said, referring to reported payouts to two women who worked with him in the 1990′s. “I hope it wasn’t for money because I didn’t do anything.”

But in a series of television interviews later in the day, Cain’s hazy memory of the events appeared to clear up.

It continues to get worse for Cain. The Washington Post quotes one of the accusers of saying she would like to tell her side but is blocked by the confidentiality agreement.

Meanwhile Rick Perry, whose public appearances in debates have already done serious harm to his campaign, might have destroyed his career in politics with a speech in which he appears to be drunk or high. The full video follows:

Here are some excerpts:

Jon Stewart provides further coverage of the Republican race:

As Jon Stewart said, “Best case scenario, that dude’s hammered. Worst case scenario, that is Perry sober and every time we’ve seen him previously, he’s been hammered.”

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Fox Viewers Are Not Dumb As A Rock–But Come Close

Jon Stewart discussed the controversy over his recent statement that Fox viewers are, “The most consistently misinformed media viewers.” It turns out that Jon Stewart was not one hundred percent accurate if you use the bizarre interpretation of this statement used by PolitiFact to claim this is not true.

While PolitFact has done a lot of good work to debunk Fox lies (some of which are demonstrated in the video above), they ignored the types of facts which Stewart was referring to and appeared to be unaware of several of the polls which back up Jon Stewart. Sometimes fact checking organizations appear to try to put out an occasional report attempting to show inaccuracies from the left to balance the far more frequent reports which often show outright lies from the right in order to look objective.

As Chris Mooney explains in greater detail, the criticism of Fox raised by Stewart, and measured in the polls he was referring to,  is based upon politicized, contested issues:

What Stewart obviously meant—and what I mean—is that when it comes to politicized, contested issues where the facts have been made murky due to political biases, it is Fox viewers who are the most likely to believe incorrect things—to fall prey to misinformation. A quintessential example of such an issue is global warming, or whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or was collaborating with Al Qaeda. There are many, many others.

PolitiFact, ignoring the many polls which showed that Fox viewers are misinformed on such issues, looked at matters of general knowledge such as, “who the vice president is, who the president of Russia is, whether the Chief Justice is conservative, which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives and whether the U.S. has a trade deficit.” In cases such as this, people who watched no news at all wound up being even more misinformed than Fox viewers, which is hardly a surprise. I’m sure Fox viewers are more likely than someone who watches no news at all to know who the vice president is. The problem is that any “news” reports from Fox are likely to be biased in a positive manner when the vice president is a Republican and in a negative manner when a Democrat is a vice president.

In conclusion, if we are looking at basic information, then Fox viewers are only the second most misinformed. They are not dumb as a rock, but come pretty close. If we are looking at politicized issues, which there is no doubt Stewart was talking about, multiple polls show that Fox viewers are the most misinformed.

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Quote of the Day

“We’re at war? Again? Don’t we already have two? Wars aren’t like kids, where you don’t have to worry about the youngest one because the other two will take care of it…And aren’t we out of money? You can’t simultaneously fire teachers and Tomahawk missiles.” –Jon Stewart

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Stephen Colbert Interviewed Out of Character

Steven Colbert assisted Reddit in a fund raiser for DonorsChoose by agreeing to do an interview out of his television character if $500,000 was raised. I’ve reprinted some of the questions here beginning  with his comments on the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (text of his legendary talk here).

To this day I’m convinced that your appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was because the Bush Administration didn’t understand your show.

Did they? What happened behind the scenes there? Was it more “non-alcoholic beer in the Roosevelt Room” or “Dick Cheney peppering your limo with bird-shot as you beat a hasty retreat?”

I was as surprised as the next guy that I was invited to roast the President and the press corps that spring.

Here’s how it works. The White House Press Association (or some name close to that) actually does the inviting, not the President or White House. The president of the press association that year was a man named, I believe, Mark Smith, I think from the AP. He invited me. When all was said and done, I wrote to thank him and said I hoped I hadn’t made trouble for him. He said there was zero fallout.

As for the backstage aspects of the night, the President has a nice, small gathering in a room near the banquet hall. The presidential seal is etched into the granite on the floor. A few news anchors, football greats, cabinet members and advisors (I remember Rove and Chertoff, there were others I think), Rich Dahm, Allison Silverman, my brothers and sisters and mom, my wife Evie, and the President and Mrs. Bush. Let me say that the President could not have been nicer, especially to my mother. I have some lovely pictures of her with him. The President and I had a brief conversation before we went on stage. There were in total maybe 60 people at the party, many of whom I should remember more about, but I was pretty focused on my job that night. There was no backstage event after the dinner, but several parties around town.

I had my family up to our room for a drink then hit a party, don’t remember which one. We all had a great time. but I had no sense of public reaction until Monday at work.

On the complications of doing all interviews in character:

Do you sometimes wish you could not be in character for some interviews? Being in character, do you feel that it prevents some people from coming on the show?

Well these questions are really related. I’ll say that from my end of the interview, I often have a guest whose subject I happen to know a thing or two about, and I want to engage them intelligently, but I am an aggressively ignorant character. That is frustrating. Of course knowing their subject lets me make the dumbest possible characterizations of their position or idea. If you ever see me truly being vigorously dense with a guest, I probably know something of his or her subject. And as I said, yes, the character aspect may give some people pause.

In response to another question, Colbert also stated that, “No one doesn’t know I’m in character. I tell everyone first.” Of course it could also be said that the anchors on Fox and MSNBC’s opinion shows are also playing a character:

Jon Stewart’s interview on Rachel Maddow highlighted Jon’s philosophy on the difference between his role and the role of news people like Rachel Maddow.

What, in your mind, is the difference between your responsibility or job and the responsibility or job of a news anchor or 24 hour news host / personality? Do you feel you’re fulfilling your role? Do you feel they’re fulfilling theirs?

Thanks for doing what you do. You’re a funny, funny man.

I think Jon’s appearance on Rachel highlighted his ability to be pretty sharp after vomiting for eight hours.

As for the 24 cable hosts / personalities fulfilling their roles, you bet they do — as those roles are defined by their companies. If not, they are fired. The fact that the roles they fulfill are hard to recognize anymore, and have little to do with informing us, but are instead used to emotionally “engage” us with their brand personas, means I have a steady stream of material.

I too would be fired if I wasn’t fulfilling my role as defined by my company. Happily they define that as comedy, and I agree. I have no real responsibility beyond working hard on jokes.

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Best Sign At Rally To Restore Sanity

Here is the best sign I saw at the Rally to Restore Sanity: My Comedy Channel–Fox News. My News Channel–Comedy Central. It is estimated that 215,000 attended the rally. It is obviously two small a sample to mean anything, but in watching the coverage on C-Span briefly after the event, there were a couple of calls from people who identified themselves as former Republicans who say they now plan to vote Democratic.

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